Greek Tourism Sector Growing at Record Pace

Athens, Greece, travel

The Greek travel and tourism industry is growing at a record clip, a full three and a half times the pace of the country’s national economy.

New data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that the sector grew 6.9 percent last year, compared to just two percent growth in the country’s wider national economy. Travel and tourism now represent 20.6 percent of the Greek GDP, dwarfing the global average of 10.4 percent.

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To make the impact of Greece’s tourism industry even clearer – one in every five Euros spent in the country last year came from the travel and tourism sector, which is worth $44.6 billion.

What’s more, one-quarter of all employment in Greece is based in the travel and tourism industry, which translates into about 988,000 jobs, according to the WTTC. For 2019, the jobs figure is likely to surpass one million for the first time since WTTC records began.

“Even at the height of economic performance before the financial crisis, Greece still employed less people in travel and tourism than they did in 2018 (934,000 in 2006), indicating that not only has the sector economy recovered but it is now outperforming its previous peaks,” said WTTC in a statement.

The same is true for GDP contribution, which has never before amounted to 20 percent of the country’s total GDP.

These figures come from the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual review of the economic impact and social importance of the sector.

The research, conducted for almost 30 years by WTTC, shows that in 2018 the Greek sector

— Outpaced the EU’s regional travel and tourism growth rate of 2.4 percent. Both the EU and Greece’s wider economies grew at a rate of two percent, but the Greek travel sector leaped ahead of regional averages.

—Benefitted from €18.5 billion in international visitor spend, representing 27.9 percent of total exports.

—Two-thirds of inbound Greek travel spend came from international visitors (66 percent), and one-third from domestic travel (34 percent).

—Was driven by leisure spending, which comprised 94 percent of tourist spend compared to 6 percent for business.

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“We are hugely impressed by the Greek growth rate and the government strategies that have spurred it on. Travel and tourism has had a huge role to play in driving Greek economic recovery, and is a chief employer of people,” said WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara. “Greece is an exemplary case study of how valuable an asset travel and tourism can be when the government prioritizes the sector.”

Greece’s Minister of Tourism of the Hellenic Republic, Elena Kountoura, said the country’s long-term tourism strategy, which has been in place since 2015, led to the outstanding growth now being reported.

“We achieved our target in creating thousands of new jobs, new business activity, new sources of income, and in mobilizing new tourism investments,” said Kountoura. “With our growth plan for the next day, we intend to maintain Greece’s strong momentum in tourism and maximize its benefits for the local communities across Greece, acknowledging tourism’s immense value as a major driving force for employment, economic and social prosperity.”

Greece is growing so popular that some parts of the country are considering caps on the number of visitors. Last year, Santorini began reviewing a plan to cap the number of cruise ship visitors in order to help deal with the growing trash on the island.


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