26th Moscow International Travel & Tourism Exhibition
12–14 March 2019 • Expocentre, Moscow

Destination Focus: Greece

With the landscape of Russia's tourism market changing in the past couple of years, some nations have been picking up more of the country's outbound tourists.
Destination Focus: Greece
One such country is Greece. After welcoming an increased number of Russian inbound tourists in 2016, the Mediterranean state is keen to keep the momentum rolling.

In our latest Destination Focus, we chatted to Polikarpos Efstathiou, Director of the Greek National Tourism Organisation in Russia, to get the inside story on Greece’s Russian tourism odyssey.

How was MITT 2017 for you?

We have had a busy show. Greece had a 15-20% increase in Russian visitors last year – it was great for us. The extension of the tourism period to November and December has been very good for us too.

Did you see an effect from the changes in the market in 2016?

We have a different product. We had 1.4 million Russian visitors in 2013 and another 1.2 million in 2014.

We have a special product, we are in the euro and the European Union, and other than sea and sun, we have products for religious and pilgrimage tourism, and gastro-tourism.

In the north of Greece, we even have olive and cheese tourism. There is a wide diversity of products from the north to the islands.

Even though our niche products are growing, so is sea and sun. We have 25,000 kilometres of beaches, 2,000 islands, 300 inhabited islands – this is what we offer offering.

Are you targeting Russians outside of European Russia?

We have direct flights to various Greek destinations from 20 Russian cities – Crete, Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu, Thessaloniki, and a new charter flight from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Kavala. Russians have a huge choice of where they can go.

Is the structure of the market changing?

There is a difference between package tourism and free independent travel. The latter use online platforms to make their own packages – booking tickets, accommodation, and activities separately. This kind of travel, individuals only, accounted for 40% of all our tourists last year. This is the case among Russians too.

What are you expecting in 2017?

Growth of about 20%. The problem we have now is accommodation – providing enough beds to support this demand. We need to satisfy all our tourists! 

What development are you most excited about in 2017?

The Year of Tourism between Russia and Greece. We have a lot of events coming up – from October 2017 to December of the next year, we will have many events between Russia and Greece.