Ten years ago today, the Athens Olympics were just getting into full swing. It was a joyous occasion for the city as people from all over the world descended on the Greek capital imbued with a unique sense of camaraderie and positivity.
The Games also proved a great opportunity to showcase Greece to the billions watching around the world. From the mesmerizing opening ceremony, to the sun-kissed venues and reports of generous hospitality, it was part of the greatest advertisement the country could have hoped for.
This came at a mighty price. The cost of the Games and the disuse into which many of the venues have fallen leave a stigma that won’t rub off easily.
However, looking at the positives we can all agree Greece’s tourism industry has benefited greatly during the last decade. In 2004, Greece had 11.7 million visitors but this year it is preparing to welcome close to 20 million – 21 million including cruise passengers.
This is a welcome legacy but the past should serve as a reminder that we need to keep planning ahead and building on this.