Tourism is evolving into a sector of decisive sector of hope for the Greek economy, Greek tourism and culture minister Pavlos Geroulanos said in an interview with the Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) appearing on Tuesday, noting that whereas the country's GDP declined by approximately 7 percent in the first half of the year, the tourism branch recorded large profits.
He also said that the German and British tourists, who had recently avoided Greece, were slowly returning, while there has been a substantial increase in the number of visitors from Russia, Israel, Serbia and Turkey.
On the negative events that struck a blow to Greek tourism in previous years, Geroulanos said that this year, due to visitors from new markets, the losses of the past have been recouped. "At this time, 16 percent of Greece's GDP derives from tourism. Almost every (Greek) family in some way relies on tourism, and that is why all forms of strike mobilisations that affect tourists are unpopular," Geroulanos said.
Turning to his ministry's activities to render Greece a year-round tourist destination, Geroulanos said that the country is taking 'new routes'. "We are seeking collaborations with other countries of the region in order to offer products that exceed our borders," he said, adding that packages such as 'Athens and Cairo' or 'Athens and Istanbul' are "more attractive" to travelers from China or India, for example.
However, the big development potential is in the markets of Asia and America. "In a decade, a large part of our visitors will come from China, India, the US and Latin America. These people will not be seeking sun and beach, but will want to see the things they have read about such as the Acropolis which, for many, is the birthplace of western civilization," he added.
Geroulanos further said that Greece is developing its tourism infrastructures and seeking foreign investors, noting that the relevant legislation was being changed under 'urgent' procedures and the procedures were being simplified.
"We want to reduce to half the required permits," the minister said, noting that the attitude of the people has already changed. Up until two years ago, many Greeks were speaking of a 'sell-off' of the country, but today things have changed and the people have realised that the foreigners as a rule want only to rent the land and create jobs, he added.