The Greek tourism sector grew at a rate of 6.9 per cent in 2018, over three and a half times the pace of its wider national economy, which grew by two per cent.
The sector represents a fifth of Greek GDP compared to the global average of 10.4 per cent.
This means that one in every five euros spent in Greece last year came from the tourism sector, worth €37.5 billion.
Meanwhile, one quarter of all employment in Greece is based in tourism – equivalent to nearly one million jobs.
Even at the height of economic performance before the financial crisis, Greece still employed less people in tourism than they did in 2018 (934,000 in 2006), indicating that not only has the sector economy recovered but it is now outperforming its previous peaks.
The same is true for GDP contribution, which has never before amounted to 20 per cent of total GDP.
WTTC president Gloria Guevara remarked: “We are hugely impressed by the Greek growth rate, and the government strategies that have spurred it on.
“Tourism has had a huge role to play in driving Greek economic recovery, and is a chief employer of people.
“Greece is an exemplary case study of how valuable an asset tourism can be when the government prioritises the sector.”
The figures come from the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual review of the economic impact and social importance of the sector.
The research shows that in 2018 the Greek sector benefitted from €18.5 billion in international visitor spending, representing 27.9 per cent of total exports.
Two-thirds of inbound Greek travel spend came from international visitors, and one-third from domestic travel, while spending was almost totally driven by leisure travel.
The minister of tourism of the Hellenic Republic, Elena Kountoura, remarked: “Our long-term tourism strategy that we implement since 2015 led to outstanding results in Greece’s tourism growth, and supported profoundly the Greek economy in the most difficult years of the crisis.
“We achieved our target in creating thousands of new jobs, new business activity, new sources of income, and in mobilising new tourism investments.”