TOURISM IN GREECE
A Global Brand, A Timeless Destination
Greece is one of the top tourism destinations in the world. In fact Lonely Planet placed Greece among its top 10 destinations for 2010 and the Greece ranks second in England’s 2008 Telegraph Travel Awards in their Best European Country ranking.
The number of tourism visits over the last decade has shown a steady increase. From 14.2 million international visitors in 2004, more than 17 million people visited Greece in 2008, and it is expected that in a few years this number will reach 20 million, almost twice the country’s population.
A New Tourism Investment Era
The increasing number of tourists and the evolving profile of today’s traveler demand a host of new tourism offerings and infrastructure projects.
In Greece, investors will find a wide spectrum of opportunities, a welcome environment for new investment, and some of the most beautiful locations in the world. A new investment incentives law will be launched during 2010.
A Unique LandscapeTourist Arrivals
Greece has more than 15,000 kilometres of coastline, 190,000 beaches, and 6,000 islands and islets. In addition, visitors are discovering the diverse alternative of sailing and cruising options, incentive travel, and weekend breaks, opening up new opportunities in niche and attractive markets.
Pristine beaches, iconic mountains, a wealth of history, timeless traditions, spectacular landscapes, and renowned hospitality draw visitors from around the world to the land where democracy was born and dreams are fulfilled.
Greece’s Mediterranean climate is ideal for year-round tourism and one of the core priorities of Greece today is to create a dynamic, sustainable, four-season tourism infrastructure that responds to the diverse and challenging needs of the 21st Century.
According to the 2009 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum, Greece holds the 24th overall position among 133 countries, 3rd place in the prioritization of travel & tourism subindex, 9th place in the number of World Heritage cultural sites, 5th place in tourism infrastructure and 1st place in the physician density subindex.
A Core Economic Sector
Tourism accounts for 18% of Greece’s GDP, directly or indirectly employs more than 900.000 people, and is the leading source of the country’s invisible receipts (36% in 2007).
Currently, more than 9,000 hotels operate in Greece. Due to Greece’s many islands and islets, more than 6,000, the geographical range of tourism destinations is extensive. In addition, the wide variety of natural landscapes, extensive number of historic sites and villages, and wide-ranging number of activities mean that opportunities are virtually limitless.
Approximately 85% of arrivals originate in Western Europe: 21.2% from the United Kingdom, 17.5% from Germany, 8.8% from Italy, 5.3% from France, 5.2% from Holland, and 7.5% from the Scandinavian countries.
Increasingly, however, significant numbers of visitors from Eastern Europe and China are making Greece their preferred destination, creating a wider base of origin countries and new demands for services, facilities, and attractions.
Source: Greek National Tourism Organization and National Statistical Services of Greece
Although the country’s tourism infrastructure is well developed, Greece is committed to expanding its tourism offerings and establishing itself as a 12-month destination. Its Mediterranean climate is ideal for activities such as year round golf and trekking and it is estimated that one million Europeans would consider Greece as a second home destination.
At present, 70% of arrivals are in the May-October period and visits are disproportionately concentrated in Crete (21% of total bed capacity) the Dodecanese islands, which includes Rhodes (17%), the Ionian Islands, which includes Corfu (12%), Attica, which includes Athens (9%), the peninsula of Halkidiki (6.5%), and the Cyclades islands, which includes Santorini and Mykonos (6%).
Among the targeted sectors for expansion include the development of integrated resorts and residential real estate, golf courses and sports tourism, wellness and health tourism, upgraded and new marinas, conference centers, agrotourism products, religious tourism, thermal spas and thalassotherapy centers, gastrotourism, and a wide range of thematic offerings related to Greece’s rich cultural and historical heritage.
Historically, hotels in Greece have been small in size, with the average number of beds per hotel standing at 76. Larger hotel units with more diverse offerings will be a welcome addition to the current accommodation infrastructure.
A Legendary Opportunity
Most of the hotels in Greece are categorized as 1- and 2-starhotels, meaning there is plenty of room for investors to establish 4-and 5-star properties. And, according to the Greek Hotel Branding Report, branded hotels in Greece account for 4% of the total number of hotels and 19% of total availability of rooms, while in other European countries this figure lies between 25 and 40%.
Hotel chains that operate as franchisors will discover attractive opportunities to establish a network of two-, three-, or four-star hotels in Greece.
Breakdown of hotels by star rating at key tourist destinations