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Cruise and winter city breaks are key to recovery for Greece

Greece aims to drive tourism outside of peak season 

Minister of Tourism Vassilis Kikilias has announced the country’s tourism strategy will focus on cruising and encouraging visitors to lesser-known areas such as northern Greece, and promoting travel outside the peak summer period.

Following an extensive upgrade to its port facilities – which included a €320 million grant from the EU Recovery and Resilience Fund, along with private investment in the city’s infrastructure – Thessaloniki has been announced as a homeport for cruise lines including Celestyal Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.

Kikilias said: “Having hundreds of islands, we are very compatible with cruising. We have put work into Thessaloniki being a homeport, and we have upgraded the airport.

We have already seen an increase in itineraries and cruise ships; the estimation is that it’s 200% to 250% up this year

“For us, Thessaloniki is a city break destination. We’re investing in a double campaign. We’re going to do a winter campaign for city breaks – with Athens and Thessaloniki as winter destinations – then a big campaign in February and March for summer sun. You elongate the period by creating a concept that gives travellers something to do all year round – the aim is a 12-month vacation experience. We can do that with city breaks.”

Greece WTMMinister of Tourism Vassilis Kikilias

Kikilias said numbers had rebounded better than expected this year, with hotels reporting an average 67% occupancy in September, and strong bookings already reported by airlines.

The average spending per tourist has also increased to more than €600 per person, up from €550 in 2020 and €490 in 2019.

 

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