Greece on course for ‘record year’ as it sets out 2024 sustainable tourism initiatives

Greece’s Minister of Tourism has said that the country is on course to surpass 2019 visitor numbers, potentially making 2023 a record year.

Olga Kefalogianni, Greece’s Minister of Tourism (pictured), said the numbers for 2023 were “encouraging”, as she unveiled the country’s sustainable tourism strategy for 2024 at WTM on Monday.

“The data available for the current year tells a story of resurgence and a story of a complete recovery in tourism activity and remarkable growth both in terms of arrivals and revenue,” said Kefalogianni.

“In the year to August, arrivals surged by more than 18% compared with the same period last year and tourism receipts have seen a 15% increase over 2022. There are also solid indications that these numbers will surpass that record-setting year in 2019.”

Kefalogianni highlighted the importance of sustainability as the tourism industry grows.

“Greece has transformed into a well-established destination with global appeal. However we acknowledge that success brings its own set of challenges and that the road ahead requires a shift in perspective as we navigate the complexities of the ever-changing global landscape,” she said.

“Therefore we are now embarking on a new chapter in tourism development – one that emphatically places sustainability at its core, prioritises the balance between economic benefits and environmental and cultural protection, social cohesion and care for people in local communities.”

The Greek National Tourism Organisation’s key objectives for its sustainable tourism plan for 2024 include directing visitors to visit lesser-known parts of the country and encouraging them to visit at all times of year.

It will also choose at least four destinations to become sustainable and fully circular pilot destinations in different parts of Greece. These will receive funding and it is hoped that they will set an example for other regions.

“Furthermore we are introducing a sustainability fund to bolster tourism infrastructure and support sustainability initiatives,” said Kefalogianni.

Greece will be promoted as a diving destination, with funding and infrastructure upgrades at marinas and harbours to make them more environmentally friendly, energy efficient and accessible. There will also be increased focus on training locals for tourism jobs within their communities and embracing diversity, including improving accessibility.

“Fundamentally our approach on sustainable tourism is rooted in placing people at the core of our efforts. We aim to strike a balance between people’s needs and preservation of natural and cultural resources by engaging local communities, preserving cultural heritage and promoting economic development,” said Kefalogianni.

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