ATHENS, Greece – Leading European tour operator TUI will bring some 2.2 million tourists to Greece next year, in addition to getting the season off to an early start compared to other years and offering its clients new, smaller Greek destinations.
These were the promises delivered on Tuesday to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Tourism Development Minister Olga Kefaloyianni by TUI head Peter Long during meetings with the Greek officials on the occasion of his visit to Athens to address a conference organized by the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE).
In his meeting with Samaras, Long forecast a 10 percent annual increase in TUI visitors to Greece after reaching 2 million this year, on the condition that the country retains its stability. In his speech at the conference Long also spoke of TUI’s intention to make new investments in the country in cooperation with local groups.
In his own address at the SETE event, the prime minister said tourism will receive a boost of 500 million euros per year in the form of European Union subsidies, and that efforts are being made to overcome an EU directive that is hampering the subsidization of major investments. He added that tourism has provided great support to the country during tough times, and condemned those who scoff at efforts to develop the sector such as the liberalization of cruise tourism, or propose that SETE be excluded from talks on social policies.
SETE president Andreas Andreadis said that tourism has contributed 14 billion euros in direct revenues this year, and along with air and maritime transport and domestic tourism this figure has reached 17.1 billion euros as a direct result. The total direct and indirect contribution of tourism to the real economy is between 20.5 and 24.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product according to provisional data, or 37.6 to 45.3 billion euros.
Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis referred to the promotion the capital will enjoy through the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) Europe 2014 event to take place in Athens from tomorrow until Saturday, with the participation of travel writers and bloggers from about 50 countries.