Greece has a long tradition in tourism and hospitality mainly due to its history and ancient civilization. Foreigners were considered sacred in ancient Greece. Xenius Zeus, the father of gods, also became the god of hospitality to protect foreigners and inspire locals to look after their visitors.
A land of rich economic, religious and intellectual activity for more than three and a half millennia; geographically spread on an archipelago of more than 2500 islands; located at the south-eastern corner of Europe; on a crossroad to Africa and Asia, inevitably stimulated travel activity since the beginning of recorded history.
1970’s – 1980’s Greece
In modern times, the scientific documentation of tourism in Greece commenced after the Second World War, while major tourism development started in the mid-1970s, when the unpopularity of Spanish resorts stimulated demand for alternative Mediterranean destinations.
A dramatic increase of tourism flows to Greece in the late 1970s and 1980s was experienced, facilitated by plenty of natural, cultural and environmental resources, existing airport infrastructure in major islands, and lower cost of living in comparison with most of Europe.
Greek resorts have different product and market profiles making them capable of satisfying a great diversity of tourism demand. The tourism industry grew rapidly, especially on island destinations and regions with historical monuments, as demonstrated in the spatial analysis of tourism distribution.
Greece is one of the most remote, peripheral, insular and poor economic regions of the EU. Its tourism requires urgent strategic management action in order to compete with alternative destinations and maximize the prosperity of the host population.
Similar strategic exercises are undertaken by competing destinations around the globe, as they prepare to face the new business realities.
In Spain, for example, the evolution of demand towards a more diversified touristic product offering better value for money; the growing concern for the environment which contradicts the degradation of the surroundings; a fragmented sector structure with low level of professionalism.
And a substantial growth of competition, especially new destinations which compete in its traditional market segments and enjoy comparative advantages in cost/prices, have changed the setting of Spanish tourism by constituting a serious threat to its competitiveness.
However, these future trends, though worrying, can be considered as opportunities to remodel the strategy of supply of Spanish tourism.
Several resorts and especially Benidorm and Calvia went through a major face-lift to accommodate the new trends. Only competitive destinations will be able to maximize their benefits in the future and if Greece would like to benefit from tourism it should learn from the international experience and adapt its strategic and operational practices.