Greece voted second most popular European destination in national poll
Amidst the global financial crisis and the multitude of headlines foretelling doom and gloom for the property market, one destination still seems to be riding high amidst all the negativity. The Telegraph Travel Awards 2008 and their poll of over 25.000 readers have placed Greece in second place in their Best European Country ranking - only falling short to the ever-popular Italy - and in turn staking its claim as a growing destination of choice amongst the British.
Greece's ranking ahead of the golfing paradise of Portugal and the traditional British holiday destination of Spain is a sign that the injection of 40 million Euros by the country's Ministry of Tourism in 2008 is bearing fruit - with recent figures released by the National Statistical Service of Greece also showing that turnover in the tourism sector has increased by 2,7% in Q2 2008 compared to the same period in the previous year, suggesting that this investment is paying dividends.
In terms of the numbers visiting these Mediterranean shores, most recent figures are also positive, showing that during January to September 2007 arrivals in Greece by UK tourists grew by 6,4% compared to the same period in 2006, according to the Greece Tourism Report Q3 2008. And it is not only investment in the tourism industry that is increasing interest in Greece. Following the summer 2008 hit film "Mamma Mia", inspired by the songs of ABBA and starring A-listers Pierce Brosnan, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Julie Walters, Greece has firmly earned its place in the spotlight, with the world's leading online hotel booking site Hotels.com claiming that online searches for the country on their site have increased by some 70% since the box-office smash.
With such positive growth in the tourism sector, it is easy to see why Greece is held in such fond regard by foreign visitors - with halcyon blue seas, warm and welcoming locals and historical settings second to none. Nick Edwards, co-author of "The Rough Guide to Greece", agrees,
"It's easy for people to combine cultural sightseeing with lazing around in the sun and water sports" and this of course makes for a good holiday. It is not however, simply the holiday sector that is set to reap the rewards of Greece's recent positive results, the property market is also set to blossom.
According to Forbes.com Greece is said to be predicting a 2,7% growth in its economy in 2009, a positive figure given the context of the worldwide 'credit crunch' and one that will surely be inviting for those looking to buy a home abroad either for personal holidays or as an investment purchase. This is sure to also be encouraged with new flight routes to the country and its islands opening during 2009 by budget airlines looking to cash in on Greece's increased popularity - for example Jet2's new Manchester to Crete service launching in May next year.
Irini Tzortzoglou, Deputy Branch Manager of Piraeus Bank UK, who offer mortgages on Greek properties, recognises the potential of 2009 for the Greek property industry,
"It is true that we cannot bury our heads in the sand when it comes to the global financial crisis, however it is important to look at the bigger picture and to recognise that different economies are set to fair differently during this time. Greece, for example, is one destination that is currently riding on a wave of popularity following a good year in 2008 and these positive results should see it through 2009 more securely than many European countries. As a second home destination, Greece has a great deal of potential and is still relatively undiscovered meaning that the 'true Greek lifestyle' is still very achievable, and 2009 looks like a good year to discover it."
Only the dawning of 2009 will truly unveil what the future has in store for Greece but until then the future looks bright.