Approximately 250,000 divers from abroad, with their families, are expected to visit Greece up through the end of October, while the number from June to the present has already reached 115,000 divers, according to Society for the Protection and Promotion of the Underwater Environment and its Land Area George Tzanakis.
Some 70% of the divers who have already visited Greece this year came from Germany, Russia, Spain, France and Italy, while the other 30% were from the US. This is the first year that the number of foreign visitors coming to Greece expressly for diving is being recorded statistically, as well as their favored destinations.
According to Tzanakis, Greece was selected as the favourite diving destination by 95% of a total of 7,500 divers who responded to questionnaires in the period 2006-2007. Greece earned this “title” for three main reasons cited by the respondents to the survey, namely “theme,” given that there are more than 20,000 shipwrecks in the Greek seabed, of which 6,000 have been formally recognised; “price,” as diving in Greece costs about one-third of that in other diving destinations such as Malta, Italy, Croatia, Turkey and Cyprus; and “family,” since the families of the divers are happy to accompany them to Greece, which offers a plethora of other activities for an enjoyable holiday.
With an impressive 16,500 kilometers of coastline suitable for diving, the main destinations of foreign divers being the islands of Kos, Corfu, Zakynthos, Naxos, and Crete. Furthermore, the recent approval of the re-delimitation of the Northern Sporades area (islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonyssos), with 14 new diving spots creates a new momentum for diving tourism in Greece.
This year, revenue from the cruise industry is expected to rise to €3.5 billion. The most popular destination is, by far, the island of Santorini, which has managed to establish itself internationally as a strong brand name in recent years. Experts estimated that over 1,000 cruise ships will have docked at the port of Caldera this year. Also, Rhodes – the “Island of the Knights” – is expecting approximately 900 ships. Mykonos – the Island of Winds – follows closely with an estimated 750 cruise liners, of which 400 will have docked at the Katakolo port.
According to the President of the Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourism Agencies, George Publican, this year cruise passenger arrivals are estimated to be at 4.5 to 5 million, an increase of 18% over the last year. Revenues could be multiplied, according to Telonis, if Piraeus and other Greek ports were home-porting, ie ports of disembarkation and embarkation for cruise tourists.
The Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) has hired five new coaches of the urban type, which are already on the premises of PPA and will directly serve cruise-passengers at the port of Piraeus. The buses are modern, have eco-tech engines and high-tech systems, and are comfortable as well as user- and environment-friendly. By adding these five new modern buses, the PPA furthers its commitment to cruise passengers by increasing quantity and quality of equipment and resources available at the port, and enhances Greece’s image and competitiveness to attract cruise passengers.