Greece is hoping the new decade will herald a rejuvenation of its tourism. The country’s economy, which suffered heavily from more than ten years of austerity measures, is still heavily reliant on tourism, and is looking to extend the season for visitors and to attract a greater diversity of tourism segments.

Speaking with Business Traveller, Angela Gerekou, president of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), said she was keen to move on from the sun and sea cliché and promote a plethora of alternatives.

The aim, according to Gerekou, is to unlock lesser-visited sites, from promoting under-appreciated Greek island “gems” less well-known than the hot spots of Mykonos and Santorini, to helping visitors ‘locate on the map’ mainland breaks in places such as Northern Greece.

Extending the duration of visitors is also important, and weekend breaks to Athens will be combined with short “escape” trips to the nearby islands of Aegina or Poros, and Thessaloniki with trips to breath-taking Zagorochoria and Meteora.

Sustainable tourism products are also a focus, as is improving the existing mass tourism services to allow for the environment and natural landscape to be protected. Investment programmes are already in place to facilitate promotion of independent tourism.

Along with increasing the diversity and variety of tourism, direct flights to “key” cities from the UK and the rest of Europe are seen as important for all year around tourism in Greece to succeed.

Gerekou said she will be working with her team on expanding local gastronomy packages as well as those focusing on history and religion. Sport, spa and general wellness are on the agenda too. Regional GNTO offices will be supporting and facilitating the head office strategy.

Gerekou is hoping that this will be a new era for Greece’s tourism, with new options for those who have visited before, while also tempting first time visitors to explore beyond the famous sites, to discover the beauty of the country throughout the year.

Rania Apthorpe