The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) has announced that it expects a record-breaking 30 million international visitors to Greece for 2017. This represents a growth rate of 7 percent, or an additional 2 million additional visitors over the previous year. 900,000 U.S. travelers are expected to visit the country this year.
For the last two years, Greece's growth has been nearly twice the global industry average of 3.9 percent, as reported by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in January 2017.
The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that tourism in 2017 will help boost the Greek economy by 6.9 percent, and will boost employment by 6.3 percent, supporting nearly 1 million jobs and representing 20 percent of the country's GDP. One in five jobs created in Greece is related to the tourism sector. Tourism is essential to Greece's effort for recovery and prosperity, the GNTO said. Every 30 or more tourists visiting Greece, creates one new job for a Greek.
"We are very optimistic about the upcoming tourist season and our continued momentum," said Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura in a written release.
Greece has always been known as a classic destination, but recently, it's received a number of new accolades. Recognition includes Athens as one of the New York Times "52 Places to Go in 2017," and Santorini was named the #1 Island Overall in Travel + Leisure's annual "World's Best Awards."
New flights and connections will make traveling to Greece easier in 2017, the GNTO said, including daily year-round service by Emirates to Athens from Newark Liberty International Airport. Destinations such as Kos, Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Kephalonia, Zakynthos, Aktio and Thessaloniki now have direct flights or connections to a larger number of European cities, as well as the U.S., China, India, Russia and Israel.
The Greek National Tourism Organization's development strategy includes increasing access via air, land and sea; increased focus on audience segmentation including: luxury, religious, cruises, yachting, diving, cultural tourism, adventure, LGBT and new international markets; and the use of new technology platforms and social media.