Tourism in Greece

The ancient Romans liked to visit famous places in Greece, and the same is true for 19th century travelers from Northern Europe. Really large-scale tourism however didn’t start to flourish until the 1960s and 1970s when the price of air fare plummet low enough for middle class Northern European families to afford a Greece vacation.

In the 1960s and 1970s, a lot of hotels and other facilities were constructed in Greece to accommodate the new influx of vacationers, and the tourism sector became a major force in the Greece economy. Today, the roughly 19 million tourists that arrive each year contribute to approximately 15% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The vast majority of the visitors arrive from within the European Union. Roughly half a million of the tourists come from the Americas, and the same number is true for Asia. Figures from 2007 show that 15% of the visitors come from Great Britain. Other nationalities who are very keen on visiting Greece are the Germans, Albanians and Bulgarians.

A vast majority of all tourists arrive during the so called tourism season, which is April through October. High-season is July and August when a lot of Europeans have their yearly vacation weeks. Visitors arrive for a myriad of reasons, ranging from the warm and sunny climate, sandy beaches, yachting opportunities and vibrant night life to archeological digs and sites, museums, hiking trails and pilgrim routes. The 2004 Summer Olympic Games served to boost Greece’s popularity as a holiday nation even further, especially in far away countries like China. In a 2005 survey in China, Greece was voted as the Chinese people’s number one holiday choice.

The Greek National Tourism Organization

The Greek National Tourism Organization (Εθνικός Οργανισμός Τουρισμού) was founded back in 1927 and is the Greek government’s department for the promotion of tourism in the country. Supervised by the Hellenic Republic Ministry for Culture and Tourism, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) has offices in over 20 different countries spread out over 4 different continents.

Every year, GNTO launches a new promotional campaign with a special theme, motto and slogan. One of the most well known is the “Live your Myth in Greece” campaign of 2005.

Other examples of GNTO campaign slogans:

  • Greece 5000 years old: a masterpiece you can afford
  • Greece: explore your senses
  • My Greek experience
  • Greece: Kalimera!

You can visit a GNTO office in the following places outside Greece:

  •  Australia: Sydney
  •  Austria: Vienna
  •  Belgium: Brussels
  •  Bulgaria: Sofia
  •  Canada: Toronto
  •  China: Beijing and Shanghai
  •  Czech Republic: Prague
  •  Cyprus: Nicosia
  •  Denmark: Copenhagen
  •  Finland: Helsinki
  •  Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich
  •  Israel: Tel Aviv
  •  Italy: Milan and Rome
  •  Japan: Tokyo
  •  Netherlands: Amsterdam
  •  Romania: Bucharest
  •  Russia: Russia
  •  Spain: Madrid
  •  Sweden: Stockholm
  •  United Kingdom: London
  •  United States: New York City

When you are in Greece, there is a wide selection of regional tourism offices available. For a complete list, visit GNTO’s website.