Greece is the tourist winner in 2017. This benefits the economy and, above all, the labour market. In the current year alone, tourism will provide an income for 54,000 additional employees. The TUI Group supports this trend with new travel packages, especially outside the peak season in the months of March/April and October/November. This perfectly matches the objective of the Greek tourism promotion policy, to welcome more tourists in the spring and autumn and thus to extend the tourist season.
Economic crisis continues to be dramatic
Even though the topic has been largely pushed out of the headlines, Greece’s economy is still continuing to suffer from the debt crisis. In the period from 2009 to 2016, the gross domestic product (GDP) has declined by about 25 percent. Despite austerity measures, tax increases and privatizations, the budgetary situation continues to be tense. Although Greece – when the expenditure on interest is eliminated – managed to achieve a budget surplus of 4.2 percent as a percentage of GDP. But the EU Commission, the IMF, the ECB and the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) are pressing for further rounds of savings. It is unclear how the high unemployment rate of about 25 percent can be tackled under these conditions. The situation is particularly difficult for the younger generation: at the present time, almost one out of every two young people aged between 15 and 24 is unemployed.
Tourism at record high
As a result, tourism is becoming increasingly important. Approximately one-fifth of GDP is generated in the travel industry – much more than, for example, the sum with which the industry contributes to economic performance. Altogether, tourism accounts for almost one million jobs with an increasing trend. Holidaymakers find Greece to be an attractive holiday destination: the mild climate, thousands of islands, the Greek hospitality and a unique cultural heritage make it a great attraction. In 2016, 25 million international guests visited the Hellenic Republic, an increase of 5 percent compared with the previous year. About every eighth visitor came from Germany.
2017 forecast: Importance of the travel business for jobs continues to grow
In 2016, tourism provided a toptal of 860,000 jobs in Greece. That corresponded to 23.4 percent of all jobs. According to forecasts of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the share will increase until 2017 almost 30 percent. Currently, the tourism is even experiencing an above-average growth in jobs. For 2017, the WTTC expects a plus of 54,000 compared to the previous year – no other sector of the economy can report anything approaching these successful figures.
Tourism promotes understanding and development
Ambassador of the Helenic Republic to Germany
»German-Greek relations have a long and eventful history with many good aspects. Currently, the image of Greece in the German media is unfortunately very poor – marked by the consequences of the financial crisis. Therefore, I would like to invite the Germans to visit my country. Because travel offers the opportunity to gather your own experiences and to gain a more authentic impression of the country. Hospitality is a core feature of the Greek identity. Tourism is an important pillar of the economy – also providing positive impulses for other sectors. The TUI Group is an important partner thereby.
I know based on my own experience, how tourism can promote development. As a child, I regularly took a vacation in Iriya on the Argolic Gulf, a place that was destroyed in the Second World War. In the 1960s life there was very simple. The inhabitants were poor and had no electricity.
Today there are many tourists there. With them have come doctors, hospitals and electricity. Although some of the romantic flair has been lost, all-in-all the people of the village benefit from this: they can offer local products on the popular markets and develop prosperity«
TUI expanding its Greece offer
Greece is also a popular destination among TUI guests. As of March, bookings were up 30 percent compared to the previous year. As a result, the country continued the trend which was already good in the pre-summer season without a break. Behind Spain, Greece thus took the second place in the popularity rankings of German TUI holidaymakers.
The TUI Group has responded to the growing demand:
- Extended offer: TUI is offering a much wider choice for the summer season for holidaymakers in Greece. On the popular islands of Crete, Rhodes and Kos, the offer has been expanded by about 40 percent.
- New flight connections: The 2017 summer schedule includes additional flights from Hanover, Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Basle to Kos, as well as from Berlin-Schönefeld to Crete and Rhodes. In the coming months, over 600 TUI flights willtravel to Greece each week from all over Europe.
- TUI hotel brand: The TUI Group operates 31 of its own hotels in Greece and cooperates with several thousand additional hotels.
- Cruises: The three TUI cruise lines visit 26 Greek ports. Among others, TUI Cruises has added Katakolon before the gates of Olympia and Chania on Crete as new destinations in its programme.
Following difficult years, Greece has managed to regain stability. Tourism plays a central role in this connection. Every holiday guest contributes to the positive development of the country. The TUI Group is an important partner.
Crete on the way to becoming a more sustainable vacation destination
Greece also has culinary delights to offer: wine and olive oil have a history that extends over a thousand years. Traditional wine and olive-growers on Crete, however, are facing increasing difficulties in generating sufficient income. More and more winegrowers and farmers are facing the prospect of losing their livelihood.
This is where a new project of the TUI Care Foundation “TUI Cares for Crete”, together with the Futouris Sustainability Initiative and local food experts, comes into play: they want to retain olive oil and wine as an integral part of the Cretan culture and, at the same time, create new perspectives for local farmers. To this end, farmers are being trained in organic farming and regional networks established with wineries and olive mills. At the same time, innovative interactive excursions and events in hotels are being developed for the tourists.
»We are delighted that, thanks to a joint vision with the TUI Care Foundation and Futouris on Crete, we are able to explore new directions and contribute to further strengthening Greece as a sustainable all-season destination.«
The Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the TUI Care Foundation, presented the Crete Project in March.