Greece: abode of ancient civilization, beautiful landscapes and rich culture

Greece: abode of ancient civilization, beautiful landscapes and rich culture

A beautiful country with glorious past, Greece is one of the top tourist destinations in world because of its rich culture, historical heritage and amazing landscapes. In an exclusive interview with TnH, His Excellency, Mr. Panos Kalogeropoulos, Ambassador of Greece to India, explains the reasons that make Greece a popular tourist destination.

Q. What is extraordinary about Greece as a tourist destination?

Greece is known for several things, and mostly for its ancient civilization, amazing landscapes, excellent hospitality and high quality cuisine. Greece is so rich in culture and beauty that it never seems to be completely explored, no matter how many times you visit it. After all, this is one of the reasons that brought it into the lists of the top tourist destinations worldwide. It is all about Greece, from nature to locals that make people coming in increasing numbers to this wonderful land every year.

There are so many islands and mainland destinations in Greece that it will take you years to travel the entire country. Sandy or pebbled, organized or secluded, beaches in Greece are ideal for all tastes. Every year, the Greek beaches are rated among the most beautiful and clean seasides in the world. Greece has 13,676 kilometers (8,498 mi) of coastline, the largest in the Mediterranean Sea Basin.

Tasting Mastiha, made solely on the island of Chios, climbing the inimitable geological wonders of Meteora and diving in yet-to-be discovered coves, are just a few examples of what Greece has to offer, not to mention its rich cultural heritage that has been so influential for the shaping of world civilisation. You do not want to miss the chance of such rare and special experiences.

Q. Why do you think that Greece is a good destination for Indian visitors?

Visitors have the opportunity to trace the ‘fingerprints’ of Greek history from the Classical grandeur to the Medieval Byzantine to the modern periods in the hundreds of archaeological sites, as well as in the museums and collections that are scattered throughout the country.

It has always been a major tourist destination with azure water, postcard like islands, small town friendliness, great food & wine and most importantly affordability and safety. This is why so many bloggers, fashion designers and artists use the Greek islands as their backdrop. Greece is the photography lover’s dream destination. Moreover, Greek food is a blessing for any Vegetarian or Vegan, and so will be enjoyed by Indian visitors.

Indian tourists will find that Greek people are helpful and friendly, and mostly speak in English to help you find your way and even give you recommendations for restaurants, island trips, and nightlife.

Q. How simple is the visa process of Greece for Indian travellers? How about the first time travellers?

The applicant for Greek visa must follow the regulations of Schengen system visa requirements. The Embassy does its best to facilitate visa applications by processing them as fast as possible. The big majority of the applications are processed within 48 hours. In most cases, potential visitors are not based in Delhi, and in order to facilitate the interview procedure, we hold Interviews via Skype for their convenience. We feel happy to receive the application for people travelling for the first time.

Q. How does the Greece’s visa service remain competitive?

We have a network of 15 Visa Centers through our external service provider VFS Global and as I have mentioned earlier, we are trying to make the procedure of application as easy and quick as possible.

Q. What tips can you offer to Indian nationals applying for the Greek visas?

I would advise the applicants to submit the application on time, with all the required documents. For more information on visa application and procedure, visit http://www.vfs-gr-in.com/

Q. How important is the Indian outbound market for Greece? How many Indian tourists visited Greece last year?

India’s outbound travel market is recognized as one of the key emerging sources of tourism for the world. Whereas, Greece is well- known for wedding and honeymoon destinations in India, industry verticals like FMCG, IT, Financial services are the major contributors to the Indian outbound MICE sector. Greece is arising and affordable destination for Indian travelers. Out of the roughly 26 million visitors in 2015, Greece receives a considerable number of travellers from India and the number is still growing year on year. Bookings have been strong since the beginning of this year. In 2015, 45,000- 50,000 Indian tourists visited my country.

Q. How is the air-connectivity between the two countries?

There you touch on a delicate point: unfortunately there is no direct flight. There are flights operated on daily basis via third countries by airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways, Air France, Lufthansa etc.

Q. How will you describe the relationship between India and Greece?

India and Greece have enjoyed friendly, warm and multifaceted bilateral relations based on deep mutual esteem and trust since the ancient times. The excellent relations are confirmed by the frequent exchanges of high-level visits, some of which are considered as high points of our parallel journeys. In the field of people-to-people relations alone, there is a growth in the number of Indians visiting Greece as a prominent wedding and honeymoon destination as well as other types of tourism such as health, cruise, history and conference. Also, we support each other in various international fora.

Q. What do you like the most about India?

Arriving in India, more than in any other country, you feel you’ve entered an unusual and wonderful world, in fact an autonomous cultural religious universe. Your senses are overloaded with colors, shapes, sights, sounds, smells, tastes. I love the great diversity of the people of Indiaethnic, cultural, linguistic, historical, architectural and religious. People in India are friendly. You can see ancient customs, rituals, and artifacts over 5000 years old with the most vivid heritage and history. Although quite new in your country, I have already visited Mumbai, Kolkata, Agra and Udaipur. India is mother to yoga, which is a wonderful gift to humanity from Ancient times. I like Yoga and though I am a beginner, that experience seems to be intensified ten-fold in India!

Greece is known for several things, and mostly for its ancient civilization, amazing landscapes, excellent hospitality and high quality cuisine. Greece is so rich in culture and beauty that it never seems to be completely explored, no matter how many times you visit it.

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