2014 arrivals projection revised upward to 23 million on strength of October figuresMore than 23 million travellers are expected to have visited Greece by the end of the year, representing a rise of 15 percent compared with 2013, according to the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE).
Based on October data, the organisation – which represents Greece’s tourism industry – proceeded with an upward revision of the total international arrivals figure for 2014, from 21.5 million. Provisional data from the Bank of Greece indicates an additional 1.2 million visitors arrived by road and cruise ship in the peak months of July and August alone.
While cruise ship arrivals were initially expected to remain stable compared with 2013, the figure rose by 100,000 in the first six months of the year, while the total for 2014 is forecast to reach about 2.5 million, up from 2.2 million last year.
Public and private sector efforts to promote Greece as a travel destination beyond the traditionally popular summer months appear to be bearing fruit, with October international air arrivals rising 23.5 percent, says SETE.
SETE, the majority share-holder of the not-for-profit private sector tourism organisation Marketing Greece, says this indicates a clear extension of the tourism season, particularly in the shoulder months of April and October, which saw a rise in arrivals of 36.4 percent and 23.5 percent respectively, compared to 2013. These increases are higher than those seen in the period June through September. The organisation also points to significant growth in visitor flow toward Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as numerous smaller or lesser known destinations, which saw high double-digit visitor growth while established destinations experienced single-digit increases.
SETE president Andreas Andreadis says that the latest figures demonstrate the exceptional strength of Greece’s tourism sector. “Despite the worsening of the economic climate in Europe and Russia and the particularly unstable environment in the wider region, Greece is expected to rank among the world’s top 15 travel destinations by the end of 2014,” he says. Referring to a tourism road map looking toward 2021 and strategic plan upon which Marketing Greece was founded last year, Andreadis says that the sector is moving at a more rapid pace towards achieving its goals.
Marketing Greece managing director Iossif Parsalis says that 2014 has proven to be a breakthrough year for Greece’s diverse array of destinations and unique experiences. “Travellers are looking beyond the busy summer months and realising that Greece offers incredible variety for people of all ages, whether they’re interested in a very affordable September late-sun escape when beaches are quieter, a comfortably cool Spring city break to experience the brand new face of Athens, an inspiring open-air ancient history lesson in October that children will find fascinating or a soul-reviving November olive-harvesting escape in the Peloponnese,” he says.