T. Rifai: Growth in Greek tourism the result of serious efforts, coordinated national policy

The impressive numbers in tourism arrivals recorded in Greece in the past two years is the result, among others, of the government’s serious efforts to support the right policies that will boost revenues and the country’s improved image in the world, the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Taleb Rifai said on Thursday, during a press conference in Athens.

“The almost 28 million visitors is a truly impressive number,” he told journalists at the end of the one-day conference on tourism titled “Destination Greece 365 days – The role of sustainable tourism development”.

“Two-three years ago Greece was about to collapse. Nobody would bet on Greece’s future. Today nobody talks of a collapse. You have done a lot of things. And as was the case in many other Mediterranean countries, tourism contributed significantly in that direction,” he added.

Rifai said the positive results are due to the correct choice of issues on which the tourism policy is based: extending the tourism season, the opening to new markets, the weight placed on connectivity and thematic tourism and the emergence of new tourist destinations. A second reason is the improvement of the country’s image abroad and a third is the strong desire of the government and the private sector to allow tourism to play a major role in ending the economic crisis.

“It’s not that you’re doing well because Turkey, Egypt and Syria are doing badly. On the contrary, if these countries were doing well, you’d be doing even better,” he said.
Rifai is on official visit to Greece since February 28 and is expected to leave on Friday.