Eat, pray, get well – Greece is developing new destinations for tourists
Greece is experiencing a tourist boom: the number of tourist arrivals from abroad increased from 14.9 million in 2009 to 24.8 million in 2016. According to the Minister of Tourism of Greece Elena Kundury, speaking at the World Travel Market in London, it is expected that international arrivals in 2017 for the first time in the history of Greece will exceed 27 million. According to the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), the contribution of this sector to GDP in 2016 was 18.6%, and is projected to increase to 22.4 % by 2026 – the development of tourism is crucial for the Greek economy.
Greece is traditionally considered a destination for a beach holiday: the peak of tourist arrivals falls on the warmer months from April to November. Now the efforts of the authorities are aimed at making the country popular 12 months a year. “Most tourists do not know, and this is part of our new tourism policy and plan for promoting abroad, that many destinations are ideal for traveling all year round, and each season offers a unique one,” says Elena Kundura in an interview with the TUI Group. An important policy point is the development of new directions that will interest not only beach lovers.
According to a study by the European Commission, almost 50% of Europeans surveyed want to be treated abroad. The most popular areas are recovery after injuries, orthopedics, kidney dialysis, cardiac surgery, cosmetic surgery, pregnancy management, and artificial insemination. Most often, patients go abroad, because the necessary type of treatment is not available in their home country or foreign clinics offer higher quality.
The Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) has included medical tourism in the list of priority areas of the strategic development plan until 2021. Greece’s main advantage over other popular destinations is the low cost of treatment. For example, according to the Greek edition of Ekathimerini, if in the United States treatment of a cancer tumor will cost about 420 thousand euros, then in Greece the total amount will not exceed 30 thousand. Taking into account the pleasant climate (here an average of 300 sunny days a year and the temperature in winter is rare drops below +10 ° C) and good ecology (the amount of harmful PM2.5 particles per square meter in Greece is two times less than in Thailand, and almost one and a half – than in Italy) Greece is becoming a competitive destination for medical tourism on a par with a number of such popular countries like avs Triya, Germany, Israel or Switzerland. Major medical centers in Greece are located on the islands of Corfu, Crete, in Thessaloniki, Kalamata, Alexandroupolis and Athens.
In Greece, the number of doctors per capita is one of the highest in Europe: approximately 97 specialists per 10 thousand inhabitants pillerss / Depositphotos
In the fall of 2017, George Patoulis, President of the Athens Medical Association, announced the creation of the International Center for Medical Tourism in Greece. According to Ekathimerini, citing the words of Janis Taountas, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Athens, in the next ten years in Greece, it will be possible to attract 400 thousand patients from abroad and earn 2 billion euros in this sector. One example of initiatives implemented is the launch of a portal that helps patients from other countries sign up for treatment in Greece online. It provides users with information about medical centers, specialists working there, available treatment courses, their cost, transfer and translation services.
Pilgrim tourism is more resistant to fluctuations than any other. Every year around 330 million people go on a journey to the holy places in the world. Greece is one of the most popular countries for pilgrim tourism. The six religious cultural monuments of Greece are listed as UNESCO:
the monasteries of Daphne, Osios Lukas and Nea Moni;
early Christian and Byzantine monuments in Thessaloniki;
the ancient city of Mystra;
historical center (Chora) with the Monastery of St. John the Divine and the Apocalypse Cave on Patmos Island.
According to a study by Maria Simone-Charteris and Stefan Boyd, Mount Athos is one of the five most popular religious tourism destinations in the world. Rostislavv / Depositphotots
There are traditional pilgrimage routes, for example, the journey “following the footsteps of the Apostle Paul”, which begins on Samothraki and continues through the cities of Kavala, Philippi, Amphipolis, Thessaloniki, Veria, Athens and ends in Corinth, where a church was erected in his honor.
If earlier pilgrimage in Greece developed independently, now this direction is supported at the state level. The government identifies three potential areas for the development of religious tourism:
Digitalization and visualization of cultural monuments (for example, the creation of “virtual museums” and 3D tours);
working with the monuments themselves: improving the quality of services and upgrading infrastructure;
creating thematic products and organizing events.