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Welcome home

                                              We welcome the American Society of Travel Agents and we share our excitement to be
                                              hosting the ASTA Destination EXPO 2018, this major event of the American travel
                                              industry leaders.
                    Greece is a global attractive 365-day destination that provides the ideal setting for the ASTA members to meet with the Greek
                    travel professionals and experts, and explore all the authentic thematic experiences and tourism products offered in all 13
                    Greek regions, as well as all the world-famous but also the new Greek destinations that we now promote. Even more, the
                    ASTA Expo in Athens presents the opportunities for new business that arise in this period of continuous and dynamic
                    growth for the Greek tourism sector.

                    Through our national tourism policy and a very effective marketing plan implemented by the GNTO, we achieved record-
                    breaking results in all tourism figures for three consecutive years. International arrivals grew by six million, at rates of
                    growth almost double the global average.  In 2017, Greece attracted more than 30 million tourists including cruise arrivals
                    and 2018 has begun exceptionally with a double-digit growth from all our traditional and new markets. The US market is
                    a priority to us, and with targeted actions and initiatives, including promotion and the establishment of direct flights, we
                    achieved significant growth in arrivals in all recent years.

                    A long-standing member of the European family, Greece stands out as the most diverse complex of islands in the Med, with
                    16 thousand kilometers of coastline, one of the longest in the world, but even more for its rich history and culture, as the
                    birthplace of Democracy and the Olympic games, arts, philosophy, sports  and science. Our country is an open museum
                    with 18 UNESCO world heritage sites, numerous ancient monuments and pilgrimage treasures, and a civilization of
                    thousands of years with global radiance. Our visitors enjoy their vacation in cosmopolitan destinations, but also new
                    hidden paradises, overall more than 100 islands each with its own captivating beauty. Greece's crystal clear safe waters are
                    ideal for cruises, yachting and diving. The close proximity allows visitors to experience multiple destinations in one trip.
                    The mainland with more than 3000 authentic villages and destinations, ski resorts, mythical mountains and its rich
                    nature, engage our visitors in several outdoor activities year-round. Greece also tops Europe in terms of thermal springs
                    with unique healing properties and offers high- end services in health and wellness, based on our long medicinal tradition,
                    as the home of Hippocrates, father of modern medicine, the perfect weather and our rich gastronomy reflecting the healthy
                    yet so tasty Greek diet, with locally grown, organic famous Greek products. Athens, Salonica and other vibrant cities emerge
                    as top choices for MICE and city vacation, providing endless options for festivals, arts and recreation, entertainment,
                    famous nightlife, high-end shopping, excellent food as well as for daily cruises to nearby islands. And last but not least, to
                    mention the genuine warm hospitality offered generously to our visitors, who feel like home away from home.

                    For ASTA's members and delegates we have scheduled amazing fam trips and sightseeing tours in our beautiful country to
                    choose from and see first-hand all the fascinating experiences and various aspects of the mainland and the islands  that
                    they will introduce to the American travelers. I invite you all to experience the best Greece has to offer, as a top-of-the mind
                    365-day destination for unforgettable lifetime experiences.
                    With these thoughts, I convey to you my best wishes for a very successful ASTA Destination Expo in Athens.

                    Elena Kountoura
                    Minister of Tourism

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