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A hopeful rise in #GreekTourism arrivals this year, 25 million expected to visit

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ITB Berlin 2016 – Greek Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Andreas Andreadis.

The Greek Tourism Confederation expects the number of visitors to rise to a record 25 million this year and bring 800 million euros ($897 million) of extra income,

Andreas Andreadis, president of Greek Tourism Confederation said in an interview in Athens on Tuesday March 29.

Andreadis said he expects as many as 900,000 Russians to arrive in Greece and they will account for about half the increase in revenue

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Summer bookings: Turkey’s to fall, Greece’s to rise, hopefully

The Greek tourism sector is rubbing its hands in expectation of the tourists who have dropped neighboring Turkey from their holiday agenda and instead opted for Greek shores,the greektravelpages wrote.

Turkey’s bookings  falling  sharply

Due to the rising political tensions between Turkey and Russia, terror attacks on German tourists, terrorism in nearby countries and problems with refugees and Kurds, Turkey has many problems that will directly affect tourism and medical tourism in 2016 and 2017.

Tourists are avoiding Turkey en masse, write gtp, with Germans recording a 14.39 percent drop, US tourists decreasing by 9.53 percent, Japan travelers by a massive 58.96 percent and Russian holidaymakers, which was until recently Turkey’s main market, by 51.56 percent. The number of Greek visitors also fell in February by 20.82 percent at 34,176.

In recent years, the number of tourists to Turkey went up by several million each year, until 2015.

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Medical tourism numbers also grew spectacularly, although some of the official figures are not entirely trustworthy. From a peak of 42 million in 2014, tourism numbers have fallen, with 2015 figures looking to be around 36 million.

The trend on medical tourism is expected to show an even bigger fall as the numbers of Russians, Germans and Italians going to Turkey have fallen significantly.

Russian outbound numbers on tourism and medical tourism have fallen and will fall further in 2016 due to political instability, EU sanctions, falling oil prices and the value of the Rouble falling against foreign currencies.

On the same day the Greek President of Hoteliers in Greece, Andreadis, announced the expected rise in Greece’s tourism activity , separately, on March 28,  Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry reported a 10 percent drop in year-on-year arrivals last month, the most in a decade.

Tourism and medical tourism have been heavily dependent on Russians and Germans. According to Turkish authorities, 5.5 million Germans visited the country in 2015 and there were, until late 2015, millions of Russians.

Turkey is concerned about the loss of Russian business, but increasing business from European countries had been offsetting this. Turkey is popular with German, French, Italian and Spanish tourists. The country used to be one of Germany’s most popular travel destinations, but after this year’s assault on a German tour group in Istanbul and two other attacks deliberately aimed at tourists, bookings have fallen sharply.

Tourism , unique Greece’s growing sector

While Andreadis made no comment on Turkey or its tourism industry, the expected influx of higher-spending Russian tourists couldn’t come at a better time for Greece as its economy struggles to grow and its finances still hang in the balance.

Tourism has been one of the few industries that kept growing during the crisis, with rising to a record 23.6 million people last year.

In 2015, international tourist arrivals to Greece grew by 7% to reach 23.6 million, while exports generated by the sector increased by 6% to euro 14.2 billion.

Its total contribution to the country’s gross domestic product was 18.5 percent, almost twice the European average, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Andreadis said the increase will boost GDP by an extra percentage point this year, with revenue rising to 15 billion euros from 14.2 billion euros in 2015. 

In 2015, the number of visitors from Germany specifically rose by 14.3 percent compared to 2014, to reach 2.8 million, while the overall rise in German visitors to Greece since 2010 has been 38 percent. Last year, German visitors contributed 2.26 billion euros to the Greek economy, according to the Bank of Greece

 

UNWTO projects a positive 2016 for tourism in Greece

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ITB Berlin 2016 – Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO); Elena Koundoura, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Greece; Dimitris Tryfonopoulos, Secretary General, Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO); Iris Gleicke, Parliamentary State-Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, also,  expressed, on March 17,  the confidence of the Organization in the continued growth of the tourism sector in Greece.

Meeting Minister of Tourism of Greece Elena Kountoura at the side-lines of ITB to discuss the situation and prospects of tourism in Europe and Greece, Mr Rifai said

“we have no doubt that Greece will maintain a powerful image worldwide as a major tourism destination and that the country will consolidate its growth in 2016, as shown by booking trends”.

 

sources: gtp pages, International Medical Travel Journal, Bloomberg, Hospitalitynet

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Hepatitis diagnosed in Idomeni

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A 9 year old refugee child from Syria has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A at the open refugee camp of Greece’s borders with FYROM, Idomeni, the Greek Centers for Disease Control announced, and is transfered to a hospital of Thessaloniki

The kid had travelled with his family from Syria to Greece, and meanwhile stayed for a couple of days in Turkey, his parents realtives said  to the authorities and the Disease Control doctors. His condition is stable, the Greek CDC announcement said on Saturday afternoon .
 

“The Greek CDC(HCDCP), in collaboration with local health agencies, has taken all imjmediated actions for the prevention and the entrenchment of the disease in vulnerable refugee populations”, the organisation’s Press Release said

 The measures include:

a) compliance with basic hygiene guidelines, such as hand washing hygiene, especially before preparing food and eating, and each time after toilet use, the disinfection of toilets, and the use of safen clean drinking water and

b) the timely recognition of cases, the provision of care and proper isolation.

c) Vaccination of close contacts of the patient and of susceptible individuals is also immediately after the diagnosis planned.

The Greek CDC, (HCDCP) also reminds by its announcement that  hepatitis A virus is not transmitted through simple  social contact in the general population.

Stay with us, 24/7

Find all the updates about Greece’s incredible humanitarian  crisis with the 50.000 refugees trapped in its borders,  on our Greek to me HomePage 

www.greek2m.org

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Balkan route closed, EU to declare

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The EU Ambassadors meeting

The Balkan route taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants to Europe is going to be closed, EU leaders will declare today Monday at their summit with Turkey in Brussels, diplomats and officials said over the weekend, after a meeting on Sunday, the news site  POLITICO revealed.

Their statement — to be approved by leaders today, Monday March 7— was discussed by EU ambassadors on Sunday afternoon.

“Irregular flows of migrants along the Western Balkans route are coming to an end; this route is now closed,”

according to a copy of the document obtained by the news site .

Der Standard leak

Two days earlier aslo, the Austrian Newspaper Der Standard claimed it has seen a draft of the communiqué which stated that the Western Balkan route would  immediately shut down and Europe would provide the necessary support to Greece to deal with the refugees and immigrants to be stuck in the country.

According to Der Standard, the draft of the communiqué included a readmission agreement with Turkey for immigrants who do not qualify for asylum. Also, Europe would ask Turkey to participate directly and constructively in the control of EU external borders in the Aegean Sea.

Moreover, the draft stated, Der Standard  revealed, that the presence of Frontex in Greece would be enhanced, particularly at Greece borders with FYROM and Albania, while among FRONTEX responsibilities would be the proper functioning of the hotspots, where refugees will be registered and being prepared for their relocation to other European countries. EU countries should have done more than they have committed to do at this moment by April 1, as it is stated. According to the same draft, Europol would also participate in the process being also responsible for dismantling the trafficking.

Roadmap to Schengen

According to the Politiko article of Monday 03/07 , the ambassadors’ meeting did not last long and ambassadors also endorsed the aim to “take forward, as a matter of priority all the elements of the Commission roadmap,” according to a diplomatic source, who added that the draft statement was not controversial. The migration roadmap, which was put out on Friday, envisages a series of steps for the return to normality in the Schengen area by December, dismantling the internal border controls reintroduced by some member states.

The new commitment to close the Western Balkan route would end the “wave-through policy” that allowed migrants to cross borders with minimal controls.

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Be aware of the other routes

The final statement stresses the need to be aware of other routes that migrants might take if the road running through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia is shut down. There are fears, especially in Rome, that migrants will try to travel north through Albania and across the Ionian Sea to Italy.

This scenario, we have to underline, would be the most nightmarish one for Greece’s tourism, paralizing at most Greece’s tourist attraction at the Western part of the country, the Ionian islands, where most of top world’s celebrities used to trravel especially on summer months .

EU on Turkey’s acceptannce

To help ease the humanitarian strain on Greece, where thousands of migrants are now stuck after borders were closed further to the north, the EU is counting on Turkey’s help.

“I am afraid we could have an intense discussion on that since some are complaining that the EU has been too soft with Ankara,”

said a diplomat.

The summit is intended to address the refugee crisis by making it clear that migrants will be swiftly returned to Turkey and that last year’s “open-door” policy, that made it possible for more than a million people to make their way to Germany, is over.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, in his meeting in Ankara with Tusk on Thursday, agreed to step up the return of illegal migrants from Greece as part of a bilateral readmission program with Athens, another official said.

But hours after European Council President Donald Tusk left Ankara last week, Turkish authorities on Friday seized Zaman, the country’s largest opposition newspaper.An agreement at the summit still faces such political hurdles, in particular unease within the EU over a domestic crackdown in Turkey, politiko article notes

“On Monday, I would like us to agree that all available EU tools, including accelerated relocation, should be used to address the humanitarian consequences for the refugees, not least in Greece, in a speedy and effective way,” Tusk wrote in his invitation letter to leaders who’ll gather in Brussels Monday.

Davutoğlu, who will take part in the first session of the summit, also confirmed Turkey’s readiness to take back Syrians rescued in international waters by a NATO-led operation.

NATO-FRONTEX deal

NATO on Sunday reached a deal with Frontex, the EU border agency, on how to coordinate efforts.

“We welcome that Frontex and NATO reached a common understanding today on the modalities of their cooperation in the Aegean Sea,”

said Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, in a joint statement Sunday with the Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. 

On some days, as many as two-thirds of the 3,000 people coming into Greece are non-Syrians. The plan is to give these people a one-way ticket home.

The statement that was worked on Sunday calls for members to approve a humanitarian package for Athens, presented by the Commission on Wednesday, before the next summit of EU leaders on March 17.

Part of the effort to help Athens includes a speeding up of the existing relocation programs for 66,400 refugees from Greece that has largely been moribund, diplomats said. The draft statement calls for action to “accelerate relocation to alleviate the heavy burden that presently weighs on Greece.”

Diplomats said they were optimistic that a consensus will emerge at the summit. The closure of the Balkan route will also soften the problem of Austria’s unilateral decision to impose a yearly and daily cap on the number of refugees the country will accept, a decision branded by the Commission as a violation of international law, said an official.

 

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SOURCE : POLITICO.

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We plan special campaigns and travel programs for the islands especially hit by refugee flows said @tsipras_eu

 

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Alexis Tsipras(right) , Nikos Hatzinikolaou (left), on air, Star channel

Talking live on Star Channel TV and  Nikos Hatzinikolaou show, the Greek Prime Minister undelined that Tourism is in the heart of the government’s priorities, and especially the islands and areas that have been hit by the refugees flows numbers at most.

Alexis Tsipras assured that all the measures will be taken to protect the tourist activity in Greece and especially the first receptor areas, the islands of Aegean.

Prime Minister stated that his office, and personally him is in close contact with the Ministry of Greek Tourism, and the Minister Elena Koudoura, as well as with the Mayors of the islands to find in common the proper solutions and action plan demanded to aware the travel community and travelers to Greece  on the safety of their travel, and more, he said, to give them a reason why to visit these isles, that gave the paradigm of humanism to a changing Europe

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Greek Minister of Tourism Elena Koudoura, by Lesvos, Mytilini port background

 

Alexis Tsipras also clarified that Greece’s position was pro FRONTEX and NATO presence in Aegean as to support , but also confirm to the international community that Greek borders  are properly guarded by Greece