The Greek Islands have topped the Condé Nast Traveler’s list of the 20 Best Islands in the World, according to the luxury travel magazine.
The magazine’s readers were asked to vote for their favourite place in the world, taking into consideration the things they love the most about travelling, including favourite countries, cities and islands, ski resorts, top hotels and spas, best airlines, airports, cruise lines and even villa rental companies and tour operators.
“When Condé Nast Traveler first appeared in 1997, Ibiza was trancing out many of you – so much so that it utterly failed to make the top 20 in our debut awards. This year the Balearics came second, for all-round good times; though when it comes to beaches and hotels you’d rather go the distance to the Maldives and thought Malta best value for money.
“And while the appetite for Sicily’s food was hearty, the Greek Islands hauled in first place overall thanks to its extraordinary scenery and people,” wrote the editors of the popular magazine.
Meanwhile, recent data released by the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) in collaboration with the Hellenic Slot Coordination Authority, confirms that Greece broke records with 3.2 million international visitors arriving on the Greek islands in August, highlighting the tourism sector’s growth despite the GFC hit that has affected the country in various ways over the last decade.
“Greece has been well known for its beautiful landscapes, rich culture and heritage and foremost for its hospitality and the warmth of its people, but all of these aspects have been questioned for a long time, particularly during the last hard years of the economic crisis,” explains Tourism Professor Marianna Sigala in an interview with Neos Kosmos.
“Limited public funds and a malfunctioning public sector have been responsible for the deterioration of tourism infrastructure and superstructures such as ports, airports, roads, hospitals, wastage management, and crowd management while cultural and visitor attractions are being abandoned or operating badly, and although distressed Greeks are still trying to deal with their challenging daily life and endeavouring to make a living with limited job opportunities, high taxes and low salaries, they never gave up on their homeland,” continues Sigala.
Despite the refugee crisis and the economic crisis, international visitors continue to resolute to what is considered by most, as a piece of heaven on earth and never cease to stray away from that part of the Mediterranean.
For most, Greece is a unique, miraculous land. The birthplace of democracy is still considered a top tourist destination that guarantees warm weather, legendary natural light, crystal and pristine waters, delicious traditional Greek cuisine, endless cultural pursuits, breathtaking scenery and famous hospitality.
“All this is now recognised by the continuous increase of tourist visitors to Greece during the years. The Greek hospitality, authentic and honest people, real emotions and interactions that you can encounter in Greece have persuaded international visitors that Greece is the place to have a pleasant and lifechanging holiday,” explains Sigala.
“There are beautiful beaches, mountains and visitor attractions all over the globe but no destination can compete with the Greek culture and its genuine people. It is the people that appear to make the difference and the Greeks know how to be hospitable and genuinely warm and welcoming, even in these difficult times.”
Interestingly, according to SETE’s official figures, the number of airline seats to Greek airports (excluding Athens) is at 3.241 million, up by 6.6 per cent compared to the same period last year with the largest increase in seats being from Germany, up by 11.7 per cent or an additional 50,000, and from the UK, stronger by 8.5 per cent and 49,000 seats. Russia and the Netherlands have marked the greatest increase in seats by 25.8 per cent (46,000 seats) and 18.3 per cent (26,000) respectively.
Top tourist Greek destinations included Mykonos, Santorini, Kerkyra, Zakynthos, Crete, Halkidiki, and Rhodes. Tourism professionals are already forecasting the same performance for September, citing a total of 2.73 million seats booked for the month.
“This however does not mean that Greece and Greeks should not try to address all problems related to their tourist industry.
“Tourism in Greece requires a long-term strategic plan, professional destination management companies that can manage tourism from a multi-stakeholder and in holistic sustainable manner, for all destinations and investments, in hard and soft infrastructures – human capital resources to make Greek tourism thrive more,” concludes Sigala.
Here are the 20 best islands in the world, as voted by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler.
The Top 20 Best Islands in the World:
1. Greek Islands
2. Balearic Islands
4. The Maldives
5. Koh Samui
7. The Seychelles
10. St Lucia
11. St Barth’s
12. The Bahamas
14. Bora Bora
17. Hawaiian Islands