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Ομιλία της αν. Υπουργού κας Ελενας Κουντουρά στο συνέδριο της ΑΒΤΑ στη Μεσσηνία

Dear Chairman and Chief Executive of ABTADear delegatesA very warm welcome to the ABTA Travel Convention, which we are very proud to host in Greece. We’re delighted to see you here in the Peloponnese – and very glad indeed that you all felt brave enough to come along!  If you run out of cash, I am sure we can offer all delegates a short-term loan…Greece is extremely fortunate to have been a destination favourite, a “home away from home”, for British holidaymakers for many decades.
The UK is one of our most significant source markets – the second biggest for Greece.  We at the Ministry for Tourism are very excited to report that 2015 is likely be the third consecutive year that Greece will enjoy a remarkable increase in visitor numbers from overseas.In 2014, Greece saw an exceptional 23% increase in arrivals from all overseas markets.  We welcomed approximately 22 million visitors worldwide.  On top of that were another 2.4 million cruise ship passengers.  And UK visitors increased by 13.2%, the first time since 2009 that the magic 2 million UK visitor figure had been exceeded!Building on the success of 2014 – and, importantly, in spite of all the negative publicity – provisional data recently released by the Bank of Greece is particularly encouraging.  It reveals that, between January and July 2015, overseas arrivals to Greece were up by 14.2%.  A staggering 29.3% of these visitors were from the UK.We simply could not have done this without your continuous and outstanding support.  Thank you to you all.How has such outstanding performance been achieved by the Greek tourism sector?
I believe it to be as a direct result of the significant work undertaken by both the Ministry for Tourism and the Greek National Tourism Organisation.  This work includes campaigns to extend the tourism season.  It includes penetrating new markets while building on traditional ones.  It includes promoting special forms of tourism, simplifying tourism legislation, and attracting investment in tourism. 
At the very core of such success, however, are what I believe to be the unique attributes of the Greek tourism product.
Most of you will be familiar with our best-loved locations, such as the Greek islands, and our unique and heart-warming Greek hospitality. But Greece is so much more than a sea and sun destination!  Its rich and diverse tourism offering will delight the most discerning of clients.Our cities are dynamic places to visit – but our lesser-known wild places are simply breath taking.  Greece has soaring mountains, deep gorges and rare wildlife, all of which make the perfect backdrop for adventure seekers.  Our unique gastronomy will enchant wine and food lovers, while lovers of culture will, quite simply, be spoilt for choice.There is a huge number of undiscovered treasures to be explored in Greece. Many of them are located in this Region of the Peloponnese.  Here, history and culture are entwined, and remain deeply rooted in everyday life.  This is the cradle of Greece – the region from where much of our ancient heritage came.   Here, in the Peloponnese, the ancient sites such as classical Olympia, byzantine Mystras and mediaeval Monemvasia hold lasting appeal.  Our region of Nemea produced wine over 2,500 years ago for the Pan-Hellenic Games, forerunners of today’s Olympic Games.  Today, Nemea is increasingly well-known for the quality of its wine. The Mainalon Trail, a new five-to-six day hiking route that explores Arcadia, in the mountainous heart of the Peloponnese, opened in May this year. Once again, it is our great pleasure and honour to welcome you all to the Peloponnese this October.  We are delighted to be able to showcase one of Greece’s mainland gems.I would like to extend a warm thank you to ABTA for choosing Greece and the Peloponnese as the host destination for its 2015 Convention.Enjoy your stay with us!  I wish you most sincerely a very successful meeting.Thank you.  
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