From the opening of new markets and the strengthening of the existing ones, which will supply Greece with new visitors, the goal of the Ministry of Tourism is to increase tourism revenues in the Greek economy in 2024 and in the following years. With her statements to the Athenian – Macedonian News Agency, the Minister of Tourism Olga Kefalogianni unfolds the strategy of the Ministry of Tourism on the front of expanding tourism income for the benefit of the whole society.

Given the geopolitical developments in the wider region as well as the current situation in European countries (reservoir markets) for Greek tourism, the Ministry of Tourism is going one step further and betting on the US market in the foreground, explains Mrs. Kefalogianni. At the same time, the competent ministry emphasizes new emerging markets, such as those of India and China, while special attention will also be paid to the markets-countries of the Balkans, whose presence gives a boost to road tourism. Mrs. Kefalogianni makes a special mention of the Turkish market, which, as she explains, with the new regime that will apply from this year to Turkish visitor visas, visits from Turkey to Greece will increase in the new tourist season.

USA: The goal is to make Greece a Top of Mind destination for Americans

By focusing on the US market, the Ministry of Tourism, as Olga Kefalogianni emphasizes, aims to make Greece a Top of Mind destination for Americans. “In recent years” the scepters in the US market have been held by Italy, but Greece may well also play a leading role and soon this goal will be achieved, as is estimated. The Ministry of Tourism is working in this direction and for this reason Olga Kefalogianni recently visited New York. Mrs. Kefalogianni emphasized the following to APE-MPE: We are starting from America, where the EOT has already made good collaborations and there is a significant increase in arrivals. However, it is estimated that there may be further growth as well as greater penetration in the American market. The west coast is now also a target, since the east coast already supplies Greece with visitors. In fact, there will soon be developments on the front of the air connection from the west coast airport to Eleftherios Venizelos. This year the air connection from the USA to Greece will include 11 direct daily flights, while two more new routes will be added from Chicago and New York. It is typical that 10 years ago a company was flying to Greece.

In order for Greece to climb to the top of the options for Americans, the Ministry of Tourism, underlined Mrs. Kefalogianni, is considering, among other things, the expansion of cooperation with the platform of worldwide appeal, TripAdvisor, focusing on promotional actions that will contribute to the extension of the tourist season in our country and will target high-income travelers. There was a meeting with Matt Goldberg, CEO of the travel platform. In fact, this collaboration will be TripAdvisor’s first with a European country. However, the messages about Greece from the USA are very encouraging. It is characteristic that in January of this year 10 million online visitors to TripAdvisor searched for Greece, when for the whole summer the online visitors who searched for Greece reached 25 million. “Greece has not yet shown what it is capable of in the USA,” notes Mrs. Kefaloyani. Greece has become more associated with the islands and the summer, while there is scope for strengthening the promotion of Greek culture, but also of products related to gastronomy and alternative forms of tourism that highlight Greece as a 12-month destination, the prime minister pointed out.

Turkey: 1 million Turks are expected in Greece this year

Remaining at the forefront of strengthening the existing markets, Mrs. Kefalogianni makes a special reference to Turkey, underlining that this year special emphasis will be given, since the estimates of Turkey’s tourist agents speak of arrivals of 1 million Turks to Greece, when in 2019 they had arrived the 800,000. The current flourishing of tourist flows, as it is estimated, is due to the new visa regime for Turkish citizens, who will now be able to visit up to 10 islands in Greece consecutively. Given the above, Mrs. Kefalogianni added that there will be a special campaign that will invite the Turks to visit Greece.

India and China: From April, a direct connection from Shanghai to El. Venizelos

In terms of emerging markets, such as India and China, the Ministry of Tourism is aiming to open these markets, after the pandemic froze any actions that had been attempted in the past. Especially for China, Mrs. Kefalogianni emphasized, this April there will be a direct flight connecting Shanghai with Athens, indicative of the interest in the Chinese market. In fact, a Greek-Chinese forum will be held in Greece in the autumn, which in turn will contribute to strengthening the cooperation between the two countries on the tourism front. For the Indian market the ministry’s intention is to make efforts for a direct air link from the promising market as a first step.

Serbia: In the presence of Olga Kefalogiannis, the opening of a tourist exhibition – Corrective actions are coming at the country’s entry gates

With the aim of further developing road tourism, which supplies visitors to Northern Greece, Mrs. Kefalogianni will be in Serbia on February 21, where she will inaugurate together with the president of Serbia the tourism exhibition, where Greece is an honored country. Remaining on the side of strengthening road tourism, Mrs. Kefalogianni underlined that there will be corrective actions at the country’s entry gates to reduce the delays of incoming visitors for the benefit of road tourism. In fact, central planning is expected from the government, while in the second year there will also be beautification interventions in them.

Against the backdrop of the start of the new tourist season, Olga Kefalogianni points out to APE-MBE that the Ministry of Tourism (through the regional tourism services), together with the competent services, will start intensive checks on accommodation and workplaces. “Legitimacy at all levels” is the message that the minister is sending to those involved in the sector.

“Tourism for All” – The platform opens in mid-March

Regarding the “Tourism for All” program and the long-awaited opening of the platform, where the beneficiaries will rush, the Minister of Tourism noted that it will open in mid-March, as technical reasons, which were not related to the Ministry of Tourism, they did not allow it to open earlier.

The program is implemented by the Ministry of Tourism and aims to strengthen domestic tourism demand for 2024, with a total budget of 25,694,539.89 euros and ending on 31.12.2024, it has new features and enhanced social criteria, such as:

– increase of the income criterion for everyone by 3,000 euros compared to 2022-2023,

– increase of the amount in the general category from 150 euros to 200 euros for everyone,

– establishment of new categories of special social groups that will receive a 300 euro grant: pensioners of all funds, married or cohabiting parties with three or more children, single and widowed with protected children,

– doubling of the subsidy for our fellow citizens with disabilities or with disabled children, from 200 euros to 400 euros.