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Wall posters say welcome to Greece

- by Dabs Banner

Holiday arrivals on the Greek Islands will be greeted with giant 'Welcome to Greece' posters in a campaign to boost the country's image overseas.

The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) has erected wall-size posters at airports and seaports across the country to welcome incoming travellers.

It's a bit like preaching to the converted given that the only people to see the poster will be tourists already arriving on holiday and some may think the money could be better spent elsewhere but, hey-ho, this is Greece after all.

Alternate Tourism Minister, Elena Kountoura, announced the launch of the campaign called "Welcome to Greece" at an event earlier this month with wall-sized posters already up at Athens International Airport and the ferry port at Piraeus.

The posters depict Greece and its diverse tourism attractions with such titles as Welcome to the Heart; Welcome to Greatness; Welcome to Harmony; Welcome to a Mythical Destination; Welcome to a Land of Contrast and Welcome to Uniqueness.

They say posters and other promotional material are available to all of the municipalities across the Greek Islands on the GNTO webpage.

Greek island lovers are also pitching in to lure more tourists back. Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks and Greek-Canadian actress Nia Vardalos are using social media to persuade people to VisitGreece.

Tom Hanks own a house on the island of Antiparos where he lives with his actress wife Rita Wilson. The couple recently joined Nia Vardalos not the Cycladic island of Amorgos and posted a picture of themselves enjoying the Greek sunshine and appealing to people to visit.

Both Hollywood performers have long been active in promoting the Greek Islands through social media and in interviews for film and TV.

Vardalos, who helped produce the 2002 blockbuster My Big Fat Greek Wedding, is pushing for Greece via her own Instagram account #VisitGreece and inviting young and old to visit the Aegean islands.

Tourism officials in Greece fear the country's financial mess could hit visitor numbers this year with some experts predicting a modest 3% growth in international visitors in 2015, a huge reduction from the record 23% boost in 2014 visitor numbers.

Greece and the Greek islands welcomed more than 22 million tourists last year and, although there was a dip in numbers when the financial crisis hit its peak in July, industry watchers are confident things are picking up.

But advice from UK holiday operators is still to take plenty of cash on holiday even though the government has made efforts to limit damage to tourism by exempting holiday visitors to Greece from capital controls.

With its chain of holiday islands and the appeal of its history and historical ruins, Greece is still one of the top holiday destinations in the world.

Germans have traditionally been the biggest tourist group in terms of sheer numbers followed by the UK, Russia and France and Greece and the Greek islands have enjoyed record growth in tourism for the past two years which now accounts for nearly 20% of the country's wealth.

The hope among Greeks is that, as confidence in the Greek economy begins to slowly rebuild, holiday visitors will arrive in even greater numbers this year and next.