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Tourism: Strong Numbers (analysis)

A Global Tourism Destination

Greece is one of the top tourism destinations in the world. In fact Lonely Planet placed Greece among its top 10 destinations for 2010 and the Greek Islands were voted the best island destination in the world globally by Conde Nast readers in 2011.

The number of tourism visits over the last decade has shown a steady increase. From 14.2 million international visitors in 2004, more than 17 million people visited Greece in 2010, and it is expected that in a few years this number will reach 20 million, almost twice the country’s population.

The increasing number of tourists and the evolving profile of today’s traveler demand a host of new tourism offerings and infrastructure projects. In Greece, investors will find a wide spectrum of opportunities, a welcome environment for new investment, and some of the most beautiful locations in the world.

Tourism Industry Strengthened—Three Factors
In addition to the increased number of arrivals reported in 2011, the tourism industry as a whole strengthened in 2011, mainly due to a) the reduction of VAT for hotels, enhancing their competitiveness, b) simplified procedures for travel documents, particularly boosting Russian arrivals and c) partial lifting of restrictions for the cruise industry.

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Greece: Patras Museum Inaugurated

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Greece’s second largest archaeological museum and one of Europe’s most modern was inaugurated on Friday (June 24) in the city of Patras, in the Peloponnese.  Finds from the Mycenaean period, as well as the extraordinary mosaics that date back to Roman times, all of which highlight the city’s legacy, are two of the most important areas of interest in the New Patras Archaeological Museum.  The museum’s architectural design was meant to match the city’s landscape and the 500 square metre outdoor pool at the entrance emphasizes the city’s ties with its port and water. The exhibits reconstruct Patras’s long history dating back to prehistoric times.   Gifted by nature, Patras is nowadays a commercial hub and Greece’s third most important city. Culture Minister Antonis Samaras noted that the “museum highlights the rich yet unknown cultural heritage of the broader area of Achaia.”   Secretariat General of Information: About Greece-Culture, Museums, Antiquities ; Ministry of Culture: Odysseus-Greek archeological monuments; City of Patra: www.patras.gr

1,6 Billion Euros for Five Greek Ports

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) A new investment scheme for Greece’s five major ports of national significance, namely Igoumenitsa, Thessaloniki, Kavala, Alexandroupolis and Patras and 27 other ports was announced by Merchant Marine and Island Policy Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on April 24. The total cost for the ports’ new infrastructure plan will amount to €1,6 billion. Fifty percent of the amount is covered by the European Investment Bank. The port of Igoumenitsa (North-western Greece) will receive a €44 million boost and will be linked to the Egnatia Motorway. A similar €185 million budgeted plan will be followed in the case of Patras port which will be connected with the PATHE (Patras-Athens- Thessaloniki, Evzoni) Motorway. A new passenger terminal is also under construction and will be delivered by 2010. Given its strategic position, the port of Alexandroupolis (North-eastern Greece) is also targeted. Its infrastructure is being upgraded in order for the port to increase its capacity in serving as a hub for the countries of the Black Sea and as a link of the latter to the TransEuropean Networks.

In the port of Thessaloniki, cargo handling infrastructure is being upgraded and the aim is for the port authority to participate in integrated logistics services networks. For the period 2010-2014, the port’s capacity to facilitate container cargoes is expected to rise from 450,000 TEUs to 1 million.  Ministry of Merchant Marine & Island Policy: Secretariat General of Ports and Port Policy; Secretariat General of Information: About Brand Greece-Ports

Carnival Celebrations in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Greece’s Carnival season known as “Apokries” is a period of eating, drinking, dancing and masquerading. Traditionally, it begins ten weeks before Greek Orthodox Easter and culminates on the weekend before “Clean Monday,” (Ash Monday) the first day of Lent. This year, the carnival season lasts from February 8 until March 2. The roots of Carnival celebrations and customs can be traced back to ancient Greece and are linked to the worship of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and festivity. In fact, Carnival is closely related to the cultural heritage of each region and every year many traditional customs are being revived in different parts of the country. The Patras Carnival is the most popular in Greece, ranking among the top carnival celebrations in the world. The Carnival of Xanthi (Thrace) and Skyros include more traditional events (Skyros – Carnival) . In Corfu and Rethymno (Crete), the celebrations have absorbed a slightly Venetian flavour from the periods that the islands were under the control of Venice. In Galaxidi, Carnival events culminate on the first Monday of Lent with a parade of floats, transformed into a battlefield, as the “warriors” merciless pelt each other with ample quantities of variously coloured flour.   Agrotravel.gr – Information Gate to Greek Rural Tourism: Carnival Events Around Greece  Athens Plus (February 13): “Fokida: Come and Join the Carnival (13.02.09, p.42)