Elena Kountoura – Minister of Tourism
The well-established and continuously expanding Hermes Expo brings Greece to the spotlight, promoting trade, tourism and the new investment opportunities through gastronomy, this year in three U.S cities.
Our government was the first in Greece to recognize tourism’s immense value, as the driving force for economic and social prosperity. With our concrete tourism strategy launched since 2015, we repositioned Greece in the global travel market as an attractive 365-day destination, and increased inbound tourism by more than 35 percent in the last four years, double the global average tourism growth. International arrivals to Greece exceeded 33 million in 2018, with a new all-time record of €18.5 billion revenue. Tourism’s total contribution to the economy, reached € 37.5 billion, representing 20 percent of the GDP and 28 percent of total exports.
We strongly promote Greece’s unique assets as the one and only Polynesian country in the Mediterranean and in Europe with more than 100 islands and spectacular destinations in the mainland, each with its own beauty, rich history and culture, highly preferred for its authentic thematic experiences. With the phenomenal tourism growth we mobilized, Greece has now emerged as the most attractive opportunity for new business development in the Med and attracts significant foreign investments in its expanding hospitality industry.
It has also been our strategic priority to link tourism with the primary production. Our goal is for more Greek products to be included in the wider hospitality chain, because they bring high added value to our tourism product and are an inseparable part of our gastronomic wealth and each destination’s distinct identity. At the same time, tourism reinforces the reputation and appeal of the finest products and brands of Greece that are being exported globally.
The Hermes Expo is an ideal setting to promote all these new opportunities for doing business with Greece in its most dynamic fields. And on this occasion, I would like to extend an open invitation to all participants to visit Greece, and experience first-hand the best our country has to offer, as an outstanding destination of unique travel experiences, and a top choice for new business in its dynamically growing tourism sector. Even more, to the Greek Diaspora and all the Hellenes abroad, to travel with their friends to Greece, in a journey back to their roots and indulge into Greece’s enormous history, culture and everlasting beauty.