Greek tourism must become more competitive, Provopoulos says

Greek tourism must become more competitive, Bank of Greece governor Giorgos Provopoulos said Tuesday as data on June arrivals posted on Monday suggested that the country could even beat its 17 million-target this year.

Speaking at an Athens conference on Tuesday, Provopoulos stressed the need to extend the country’s tourism season beyond summertime.

Greece, Provopoulos said, should aspire to become a regional training center for businesses operating in the sector.

Tourism, Greece’s biggest industry, accounted for almost 16 percent of gross domestic product and one in five jobs in 2011.

Meanwhile, according to figures released on Monday arrivals at the country’s main airports grew 14.6 percent in June compared with the same month last year, amounting to 1.96 million, from 1.71 million in June 2012.

In total, arrivals in the first half of the year posted a 10 percent rise from H1 of 2012, to reach 4.35 million, according to data processed by the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE).

Eleven out of the country’s 13 biggest airports reported a rise in arrivals from other countries last month, with Santorini reporting a 30.6 percent annual rise, followed by Iraklio (up 21 percent) and Rhodes (19 percent).

Even Athens, a regular underperformer, showed a 9.6 percent yearly rise.

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