Tourism in Greece

Tourism in Greece has been a key element of the economic activity in the country, and is one of the country's most important sectors. Greece has been a major tourist destination and attraction in Europe since the 1970s for its rich culture and history, which is reflected in large part by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe and the world[1] as well as for its long coastline, many islands, and beaches.[2]

The Egremnoi sand beach in the Greek island of Lefkada, noted for its blue crystal waters,[3] is a popular tourist destination.

Greece attracted as many as 33 million visitors in 2018, up from 24 million in 2015,[4][5][6][7] making Greece one of the most visited countries in Europe and the world, and contributing to approximately 25% to the nation's Gross Domestic Product.[8]

Greece is one of Europe's most popular LGBT tourist destinations. The religious tourism and pilgrimages, the ecotourism, the conference tourism, and the medical tourism are prominent, and initiatives are being made to promote the seasonal tourism as well. Some of the country's major tourist destinations include the capital city Athens, the islands of Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu and Crete, as well as the peninsula of Chalkidice.

HistoryEdit

Tourism in Greece traces its roots to ancient times. Cultural exchange took place between the Greek colonies of Magna Graeca and the young Roman Republic before Rome's rise to dominance of the Western Mediterranean. When Greece was annexed by the Roman Empire centuries later, the cultural exchange that started between the two civilization triggered as a result a large number of Romans visiting the famous centers of Greek philosophy and science, such as Athens, Corinth and Thebes, partly because Greece had become a province of the Roman Empire and Greeks were granted Roman citizenship.

Tourism in modern-day Greece started to flourish in the 1960s and 1970s, in what became known as mass tourism.[9] During that time, large-scale construction projects for hotels and other such facilities were undertaken, and the country saw an increase in international tourists over the years.[9] International events such as the 2004 Summer Olympic Games and the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, both held in Athens, greatly helped to boost tourism in the country, while large-scale nationally funded cultural infrastructure such as the New Acropolis Museum also contributed to the flow of tourists in the country. Thessaloniki was the European Youth capital in 2014.

Panoramic view of the Santorini caldera, taken from Oia

Land and climateEdit

Greece has a Mediterranean climate along its coasts and islands. Once inland, many areas and cities experience a continental climate.[10]

Summers are usually hot and dry, while winters are generally mild and wet. Northern Greece can experience cold winters, while Southern Greece and the islands experience considerably milder winters.[11]

InfrastructureEdit

As a developed country highly dependent on tourism, Greece offers a wide variety of tourist facilities.[12] Tourism infrastructure in Greece has been greatly improved since the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and continues to expand with a number of important projects particularly in areas of less mass-tourism.[13]

Beach resortsEdit

 
 
Crete
 
Kos
 
Corfu
 
Kefalonia
 
Zante
 
Skiathos
 
Halkidiki
Beach resorts

Some popular beach resorts include Crete, Rhodes, Kos, Corfu, Kefalonia, Zante and Skiathos attracting millions of foreign tourists every year.[14][dead link]

Hotels and facilitiesEdit

According to the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels in 2016, the number of hotels in Greece was by classification (bedplaces):[15]

Star rating Number Beds
5 star 444 137,210
4 star 1,412 203,203
3 star 2,472 185,560
2 star 3,990 210,365
1 star 1,412 52,215
Total 9,730 788,553

MarinasEdit

Greece has 51 marinas and 14,661 mooring places that provide such services as berths, fuel, water and electricity, telephony, and repairs.

Some of the most developed and busiest marinas in Greece are just a few kilometres from the centre of Athens. The marinas of Alimos and Flisvos, on the south coast of Athens, have an aggregated capacity of more than 1,800 vessels.

Spas and thermal springsEdit

Greece has 752 thermosprings. Many have been classified as therapeutic by the National Institute for Geographical and Mineral Research. Several of them were known and exploited already since antiquity. Thermal or curative tourism was, after all, one of the earliest forms of tourism in the ancient world. In 1983 was founded the Hellenic Association of Municipalities with Thermal Springs [1] Some of these ancient "spa resorts" were situated in Aidipsos, known from the time of Aristotle,[16] Loutraki, mentioned by Xenophon,[17] Traianoupoli [2], founded by the emperor Trajan in the 2nd century A.D., whereas some others are attested in the Byzantine period, such as the Thermal baths of Langadas [3]. In the late 19th and the beginning of the 20th century these hot springs were surrounded by cosmopolitan facilities, namely hotels and restaurants, whereas several prominent members of the society of both the Modern Greek State and the Ottoman State (for regions still incorporated in it) invested in touristic infrastructure and private estates.[18] Thermal tourism became particularly widespread in the 1960s and 1970s, whereas in the 1980s it was widely supported by a social tourism program, which subsidized large part of the expenses for the elderly users of the facilities. Nowadays, however, there is an urgent need to refurbish, restore and elevate these spas to modern standards and create an international clientele. Visitors, however, can already find high-standard touristic facilities in Pozar [4], in Aidipsos [5] and in Kamena Vourla [6], in Loutraki close to Corinth [7] as well as at Kaiafas, on the western shores of the Peloponnese [8]. A detailed List of spa towns in Greece can give an insight in the inexorable richness of thermal springs of the country.

View of the city of Corfu

Cultural attractionsEdit

MuseumsEdit

Several kinds of museums are located in the Hellenic Republic. Generally speaking, every major city and town in Greece has its own Archaeological Museum, which houses findings from the nearby area. However, most of them can be found in the big cities like Athens, where the famous New Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum are located. Furthermore, there is a vast number of galleries like the National Gallery (Athens). There are many museums in Thessaloniki too, like the Byzantine Museum. Overall, there are approximately 150 museums all over the country which are easily accessible by tourists.

Archaeological sites and citiesEdit

 
 
Rhodes
 
Lindos
 
Delphi
 
Knossos
 
Sparta & Mystras
 
Thermopylae
 
Olympia
 
Athens
 
Thessaloniki
 
Delos
 
Thera (Santorini)
 
Vergina
 
Philippi
 
Dion
 
Pella
 
Larissa
 
Dodona
 
Epidaurus
 
Mycenae
 
Thebes
 
Abdera
 
Samos
 
Phaistos
 
Olynthus
 
Cercyra (Corfu)
 
Sounion
Selection of significant archaeological sites and cities
 
The ancient Olympic Stadium in Olympia
 
The Minoan palace in Knossos, Crete

There are numerous archaeological sites dotted all around Greece, many of which are popular with tourists.

The Greek capital, Athens, has many archaeological sites, the most famous being the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Ancient Athenian cemetery of Kerameikos, the Philopappou Hill, the Tower of the Winds, Plato's Academy and the Ancient Agora.

In the adjacent area of Attica are the Marathon tumuli, burying mounds in Marathon that house the ashes of the Athenian and Plataean hoplites that were killed in the homonymous battle. Findings from the area and from the battle of Marathon are preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Marathon nearby. In western Attica is Eleusis, where, from as early as 1700 BC up to the 4th century AD, it was the site of the Eleusinian Mysteries, or the Mysteries of Demeter and Kore. At the eastern tip of Attica is Sounion, with the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon.

Central Greece is the location of Thebes, an ancient city that once rivalled Athens, and featured in Greek myth. Delphi has a distinguished ancient theatre, the site of the Oracle. Thermopylae is primarily known for the battle that took place there in 480 BC, in which an outnumbered Greek force probably of seven thousand (including the famous 300 Spartans) held off a substantially larger force of Persians estimated in the range 70,000-300,000 under Xerxes.

The Peloponnese peninsula, dominating the south of the mainland, has a wide variety of archaeological sites. Beginning at the north end, there is Ancient Corinth, near the modern town of the same name. In the northeast of the peninsula are Epidaurus, with its ancient theatre, now restored; Argos, with several ancient ruins, including the Heraion; and Nemea, where, in Greek mythology, Heracles overcame the Nemean Lion of the Lady Hera, and during Antiquity the Nemean Games were played. Most important of all, however, is Mycenae, which, in the second millennium BC, was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece and parts of southwest Anatolia. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae. Tiryns, also in the area, is a Mycenaean archaeological site.

In the centre of the Peloponnese are Sparta, where, near the modern town, are ancient ruins, the most important being the tomb of Leonidas; Tegea, an important religious center of ancient Greece, containing the Temple of Athena Alea; and Lycosura, said by Pausanias to be the oldest city in the world.

On the western side of the peninsula are Bassae, an archaeological site in the northeastern part of Messenia; Messene itself, the ruins of a large classical city-state refounded by Epaminondas in 369 BC; and, at Pylos, the ruins of the Palace of Nestor, which is the primary structure within a larger Late Helladic era settlement, likely once surrounded by a fortified wall. In the northwest is Olympia, with many ancient ruins, including the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Hera, the Palaestra and the Leonidaion.

Archaeological sites in Epirus, the western part of mainland Greece, include Ambracia, the ruins of the ancient capital of Pyrrhus of Epirus; Dodona, whose shrine was regarded as the oldest Hellenic oracle, possibly dating to the second millennium BC according to Herodotus; Elaea, near the mouth of the Acheron; and Gitanae. Nicopolis or Actia Nicopolis, also in Epirus, was founded 31 BC by Octavian in memory of his victory over Antony and Cleopatra at Actium the previous year. In addition, there are the ruins believed by some to be those of the Necromanteion of Acheron, an ancient Greek temple of necromancy devoted to Hades and Persephone.

Thessaly, another region of central Greece, has an archaeological site in Larissa, the Frourio Hill, which is the location of an ancient theatre and the ruins of a basilica.

The second city of Greece, Thessaloniki, is nicknamed the "Co-capital". It has many historic buildings, some World Heritage Sites, including the Arch and Rotunda of Galerius, the Church of Panagia Chalkeon and the White Tower.

In the adjacent region of Macedonia, there is Dion, the sacred place of the Ancient Macedonians. Dion is the site of a large temple dedicated to Zeus, as well as a series of temples to Demeter and to Isis. Pella, also in the region, is the capital of Ancient Macedonia and birthplace of Alexander the Great and Philip II of Macedon.

Other archaeological sites in Macedonia include Olynthus in Chalcidice; Philippi, established by the king of Macedon, Philip II, on the site of the Thracian colony of Krinides or Crenides; Amphipolis, an ancient city once inhabited by the Edoni people; Leibethra, an ancient city close to Olympus where Orpheus was buried by the Muses; Stagira, ruins of the ancient city known as the birthplace of Aristotle; and Vergina, a World Heritage Site, the location of the Macedonian Royal Tombs and the ruins of the ancient Macedonian capital.

Thrace, of which only the western part belongs to modern Greece, has an archaeological site at Abdera. Didymoteicho is a historical town built near the Turkish border which has many Ancient Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman landmarks, including the ruins of the ancient city of Plotinopolis, the Byzantine fortifications built around the town, the Bayezid Mosque built in 1420 and the Silent Baths, the oldest hamam in Europe.

The Greek islands have numerous historical sites of their own. Chalcis is located on Euboea. Delos is an uninhabited island in the Cyclades famous for its numerous archaeological sites, including the Stoivadeion, the Temple of the Delians, the Terrace of the Lions and the House of the Dolphins. On Syros, near Piraeus, and linked to the latter by a ferry taking only 2.5 hours, is the neoclassical city of Hermoupolis, where two civilizations and two religions lived harmonically and peacefully together. It has beaches, classical theatre, casino, general hospital and many places to see.

Santorini, one of the Cyclades, is the location of Ancient Thera, an antique city on a ridge of the steep, 360 m high Messavouno mountain, and of Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement.

The Samothrace temple complex is one of the principal Pan-Hellenic religious sanctuaries, located on the island of Samothrace.

Crete, the largest Greek island, has archaeological sites at Phaistos in the south, Zakros in the east, and most important of all, Knossos in the centre, which is famous for its ruined Minoan palace, with bull motifs.

Rhodes, one of the Dodecanese islands, is the location of the Acropolis of Rhodes, an acropolis dating from the Classical Greek period (5th–3rd century BC); the Acropolis of Lindos, a natural citadel which was fortified successively by the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Knights of St John and the Ottomans; and the ancient city of Kameiros. On the nearby island of Kos is the Asclepeion, the ruins of one of the greatest healing temples of the Ancient World and the place where Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine was trained. On Kastellorizo, the easternmost island of Greece, is the Lycian Tomb, a rock cut tomb built by the ancient Anatolian civilization of the Lycians.

Alternate tourismEdit

LGBT tourismEdit

Greece also is one of Europe's most popular LGBT tourist destinations, particularly its largest cities Athens and Thessaloniki and some of its islands such as Lesbos, Santorini, Skiathos and Mykonos.[19][20] The latter is a well-known Gay-friendly destination with many establishments catering for the LGBT community.[21][22][23]

Religious tourismEdit

Greece is promoting religious tourism and pilgrimages to regions with a significant historical religious presence, such as the Christian monasteries in Meteora and Mount Athos, in cooperation with other countries.[24]

Medical tourismEdit

Greece's temperate climate, highly-trained medical staff, and cutting-edge medical innovations also are contributing to the country's medical travel industry.[25]

EcotourismEdit

Greece has become in recent years a destination for ecotourism (especially hiking, canoeing, caving and climbing).[26] The main destinations for skiing in Greece are Arachova, Kalavryta, Karpenisi and Metsovo.[27] The Greek government is trying to bring more and more ecotourism to help and save the environment. So tourists and locals alike can have a clean environment.[citation needed]

Conference tourismEdit

Conference tourism, targeted at academic, business, or cultural markets, is a cornerstone of the Greek national tourism policy. As a result, the Greek government, with strong support from local authorities, has been offering lucrative cash grants, leasing and employment subsidies and tax allowances to establish new conference facilities and expand existing ones. In a recent report in Meeting and Incentive Travel, Greece was ranked eighth in the world in overnight stays for conferences. Figures from the Tourism Satellite Accounting Research, conducted by WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council) project a worldwide increase in revenues in business travel to Greece from US$1.51 bn. in 2001 to US$2.69 bn. in 2011. In 1998, the figure stood at US$1.18 bn.

Four Seasons & Winter tourismEdit

The government intends to promote four seasons & winter tourism in Greece, which could potentially increase international arrivals even further.[28]

Economic impactEdit

At the same time, tourism consumption increased considerably since the turn of the millennium, from US$17.7 bn. in 2000 to US$29.6 bn. in 2004. The numbers of jobs directly or indirectly related to the tourism sector were 659,719 and represented 16.5% of the country's total employment for that year. In 2018, tourism contributed over a quarter of the country's gross domestic product, having direct impact on the Greek economy, amounting to 21.6 billion euros or 11.7 percent of GDP.[29]

VisitorsEdit

 
Forest road in Mount Pelion
 
Mountain lodge in Mount Olympus
 
Navagio, a sand beach in Zakynthos

In 2009, the country welcomed over 19.3 million tourists,[30] a major increase from the 17.7 million tourists the country welcomed in 2008.[31] The vast majority of tourists in the country are from within the European Union (12.7 million), followed by those from the Americas (0.56 million), Asia (0.52 million), Oceania (0.1 million) and Africa (0.06 million).[32] In the year 2007, more British people visited the country than any other nationality, numbering 2.61 million in total, making up 15% of the country's tourists for that year alone. Additionally, 2.3 million Germans, 1.8 million Albanians and 1.1 million Bulgarians visited the country that year.[32] In 2007, 92.8% of the total number of tourists in Greece were from countries in Europe.[32]

The most-visited region of Greece is that of Central Macedonia in northern Greece, near some of the most popular attractions in the country such as Halkidiki, Mount Olympus, Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great, and Greece's second-largest city, Thessaloniki.[31] In 2009, Central Macedonia welcomed 3.6 million tourists, or 18% of the total number of tourists who visited Greece that year,[31] followed by Attica (2.6 million) and the Peloponnese (1.8 million).[30] Northern Greece is the country's most-visited region, with 6.5 million tourists, while Central Greece comes second with 6.3 million.[30]

According to a survey conducted in China in 2015, Greece was voted as the Chinese people's number one choice as a tourist destination.[33] In November 2016, Austria, like China, announced that Greece was the favourite tourist destination for its citizens.[34] In line with these observations, Greece's former Minister of Tourism Aris Spiliotopoulos announced the opening of a Greek National Tourism Organization office in Shanghai by the end of 2010, and GNTO currently operates two tourism offices in China, one in Shanghai and one in Beijing.[35] It is estimated that throughout 2013 Greece welcomed over 17.93 million tourists, an increase of 10% compared to 2012. More than 22 million tourists visited Greece in 2014 and this number increased to 26 million visitors in 2015 and is projected to attract 28 million visitors in 2016,[36][37][38] making it one of the most visited countries in Europe and the world. Tourism in Greece will typically peak between May and September where approximately 75% of all tourist visits happen.[39]

Arrivals by countriesEdit

The majority of tourist arrivals in Greece arrive from neighboring North Macedonia with over 3 million passing through the country of 2 million people to visit Greece in 2015. The top 10 countries of arrival were:[40]

Rank Country Number
1   North Macedonia 3,023,059
2   Germany 2,810,350
3   United Kingdom 2,397,169
4   Bulgaria 1,900,642
5   France 1,522,100
6   Italy 1,355,327
7   Turkey 1,153,046
8   Poland 754,402
9   United States 750,250
10   Serbia 727,831

Promoting Greek tourismEdit

Tourism in Greece is run by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) who used Helena Paparizou, a famous Greek singer who won Eurovision Song Contest in 2005 as an ambassador. Singer Sakis Rouvas,[41] who represented Greece in the 2009 Eurovision song contest, is currently the ambassador for Greek Tourism.

The advertisements displayed in the GNTO's web"site still focus on the triptych of sea, sun and sand. However, the tourism campaign is undergoing a significant change as city-breaks and conference tourism are promoted, along with cultural and wellness tourism. The impact of the new campaign will hopefully result in increased tourist revenues. The name of commercials is "You in Greece".

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Greece Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (17)". Unesco. Unesco.
  2. ^ Greece by Paul Hellander, Kate Armstrong, Michael Clark, Des Hannigan
  3. ^ "13 Places Where You Can See the Bluest Water in the World". Travel+Leisure. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Tourism Ministry statistics impress". Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Extra 2 million tourists to visit Greece". Avgi. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Historic records for tourism (Ιστορικό ρεκόρ για τον τουρισμό)". topontiki.gr. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  7. ^ "UNWTO". Tweeter. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Tourism involves everyone". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Greece Tourism: Information about tourism in Greece and the Greek Islands". greeka.com. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  10. ^ "Climate in Greece: temperature, precipitation, when to go, what to pack". www.climatestotravel.com. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Climate of the World: Greece | weatheronline.co.uk". www.weatheronline.co.uk. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Country Information". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Luxury Resorts and Residences in Greece – Costa Navarino". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  14. ^ (PDF) http://www.grhotels.gr/GR/BussinessInfo/News/Lists/List/Attachments/408/ENG-GreekTourismHotels2013.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "Ξενοδοχειακό Δυναμικό Ελλάδας 2016 - Σύνολο Χώρας" (PDF). grhotels.gr. 2016.
  16. ^ "Hellenic Association of Municipalities With Thermal Springs". www.thermalsprings.gr. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Hellenic Association of Municipalities With Thermal Springs". www.thermalsprings.gr. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  18. ^ TheKoProSkila (29 November 2012). "Sarlitza Palace Hotel, Thermi – Lesvos". Retrieved 7 October 2017 – via YouTube.
  19. ^ "LGBT Travellers". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  20. ^ "'Gay September in Greece' Campaign Highlights Country's Best for LGBT Tourists". GTP. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  21. ^ Duncan Garwood, Mediterranean Europe, 2009
  22. ^ Lloyd E. Hudman, Richard H. Jackson, Geography of travel and tourism, 2003
  23. ^ Harry Coccossis, Alexandra Mexa, The challenge of tourism carrying capacity assessment: theory and practice, 2004
  24. ^ "Greece Focuses on Religious Tourism, Explores Cooperation with Russia". gtp.gr. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  25. ^ "Medical Tourism Market in Greece: Current Trends and the Future". Medical Tourism Magazine. MedicalTourism.com. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  26. ^ Interview: Natali Dologlou, MIRC, Greece, 21 January 2016
  27. ^ Winter vacations in Greece, on visitgreece.gr
  28. ^ "Kountoura: The goal is to promote Greece as a destination of four seasons (original: Κουντουρά: Στόχος η προώθηση της Ελλάδας ως προορισμού τεσσάρων εποχών". 25 August 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  29. ^ "Greece is over-reliant on tourism". 29 May 2019. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  30. ^ a b c "Nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments – regional – annual data". epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu. 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  31. ^ a b c "Tourism" (PDF). epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu. 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  32. ^ a b c "24.2 mln tourist arrivals in Greece in 2014". Proto thema. April 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  33. ^ "People's Daily Online -- Minister says Greece, China to be best tourist partners". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  34. ^ "voiceofgreece.gr". www.voiceofgreece.gr.
  35. ^ "GNTO Offices Abroad". visitgreece.gr. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  36. ^ Ioanna Zikakou (25 August 2015). "New Record for Greek Tourism: Around 26M Arrivals in 2015".
  37. ^ "Προβλέψεις για νέο ρεκόρ στον τουρισμό το 2016". 24 December 2015.
  38. ^ "Ιστορικό ρεκόρ για τον τουρισμό".
  39. ^ "Tourism in Greece". Greeka.com. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  40. ^ NON-RESIDENTS ARRRIVALS FROM ABROAD: January – December 2015, Retrieved 31 October 2016
  41. ^ http://www.enet.gr/online/online_text/c=112,id=905204. Retrieved 2009-02-23

External linksEdit