ECONOMY

Greece still one of Europe’s foremost tourist destinations

BERLIN – Greece enters the new tourism season as one of the most popular destinations in the world’s biggest markets, Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos told a press conference here yesterday. Speaking on the sidelines of a major tourism exhibition which is taking place in Germany, Spiliotopoulos said Greece is the second most popular destination among 80 according to data compiled by the International Federation of Tour Operators. In the German market alone, a survey by tour operator TUI shows Greece to be the most attractive country worldwide, while another joint survey by the European Cruise Council, Euroyards and Medcruise & Europe ranked the country third in the list of the most popular cruise destinations in Europe, behind Italy and Spain. The course of Greek tourism, said the minister, is linked to culture and sports, as well as to environmental awareness. There is also emphasis on developing so-called green tourism, with pilot actions at tourism destinations across the country in association with local authorities. Efforts in this context also include the formulation of a pioneering program of tourism development aimed at protecting the environment, through the creation of eco-camping grounds and eco-marinas, and a series of innovative actions such as special routes, kiosks and observation towers. Spiliotopoulos said camping sites at Skotina, Asprovalta, Paliouri and Phanari in Northern Greece will be upgraded with more environmentally friendly facilities, while an ecological marina will also be created at Paliouri in Halkidiki. The upgrading of regional airports continues meanwhile, in cooperation with the Transport Ministry and the assistance of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE). «In a few years’ time,» Spiliotopoulos said, «we will have an ultramodern airport at Kastelli in Crete.» Most international airports in the country are being upgraded, while the airports of Araxos, Nea Anchialos and Kalamata are now also receiving international flights for the April-October period each year. The ministry has funds available from the European Union totaling -564 million, which will be used to upgrade the quality of the country’s tourism product.