ATHENS – Greece’s top tourism agency is trying to turn the country, famed for summer, sun, sand, beaches and islands, into an autumn destination, winter paradise and spring attraction as well.
Angela Gerekou, President of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) told the Italian news agency ANSAMed that “Greece’s strategy is to expand the destinations people would want to visit across the country, and to encourage tourists to explore Greece not just in summer, but winter too.”
She said that, “In our new campaigns – ‘Greece has a winter too’, is the slogan – we are make it very clear that Greece is not just sun and beaches, and it’s not only the islands. We have also beautiful beaches in northern Greece, and western Greece” that almost no one is aware of.”
With popular spots such as the islands of Santorini, Rhodes and Corfu overwhelmed so much that the infrastructure can’t keep up, the GNTO and Tourism Ministry are trying to lure people to other islands and mainland spots.
“There’s plenty of beauty to be found in Greece, no matter where you are in the country. Greece can be always in season,” she said, tourism on a path to perhaps break 2019 record levels and surpass 20 billion euros ($20.79 billion) in revenues.
That proved critical during the waning COVID-19 pandemic and provided enough money for the state to pour 9 billion euros ($9.36 billion) into paying 90 percent of electricity bills that doubled for households in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that spiked energy markets.
With the big numbers of arrivals continuing into November, helped by unseasonably warm weather, the GNTO chief said the effort will be to keep them coming to winter attractions, including mountains and ski areas.
“We still have tourism till December,” she said as the ad campaigns have picked out to let people know Greece wants them all year round, and trying to attract Northern Europeans to get away from heating bills and stay warm.
“Greek tourism is heading for an excellent year, supporting public revenue, despite inflationary pressures worldwide and the environment of high uncertainty that has emerged following the energy crisis,” she said.
“Revenues for 2022 have already surpassed the 18.2 billion euros ($18.92 billion) generated in 2019. At the moment, Greece is set to have earned around nineteen billion euros for the current year,” she added.
Italy is a big competitor for tourists but is so close to Greece’s western coast that Italians can come by ferry and Athens is a short flight away, Greece a special attraction for them too.
Greece also is promoting itself for other forms of tourism too, from golf to medical to sports as well as its cultural heritage, she noted where the GNTO gives “special emphasis to mixing Greek Hospitality, Food and Culture as organically as we can. Highlighting this triptych is a priority for us.”
“Last April, on my own initiative, we organized the 1st Symposium Greece the Country of EF ZIN: the sustainable Economy of Hospitality in connection with the Greek Diet and Culture,” she also said.
“The whole country offers a huge variety of experiences, that strengthen and rejuvenate the body, spirit and soul of the visitor,” she continued, emphasizing the Mediterranean Diet, which is akin to Italy’s.