Athens: Tourism in Greece, a vital pillar of the country’s economy, is on track to yield record high revenues this year, exceeding pre-Covid levels, according to officials.
“2022 has been an amazing year for Greek tourism… I’m very happy to say that both branded and alternative destinations, both on islands and the mainland, were full of travellers and tourists this year, and we are set to surpass this year the numbers recorded in 2019, which has so far been a record year in tourism,” Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias told Xinhua news agency.
In 2019, Greece registered 32 million arrivals and some 18 billion euros in tourism-related revenues, according to Bank of Greece (BoG) data.
The data so far this year indicates a strong comeback.
Tourism-related revenues were 224.5 per cent higher in June and 329.3 per cent higher in January-June 2022 than in the corresponding periods of 2021, according to the latest BoG announcement.
Compared with 2019, tourism-related revenues increased by 2.3 per cent in June 2022.
A recent analysis by local lender Alpha Bank expects Greece’s tourism-related revenues to reach 20 billion euros this year, thanks to a travel frenzy after travel restrictions were lifted, giving a significant boost to the Greek GDP.
“After two very difficult years for tourism, we had an extremely positive rebound this year that helps us a lot and helps the Greek economy a lot. As a sector we usually account for 25 per cent of the GDP, this is a very big number for a national economy,” Alexandros Vassilikos, president of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels (HCH), told Xinhua on Friday.
Tourism was a key driver in Greece of the 7.7 per cent GDP growth in the second quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2021, according to data released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).
The impressive performance of Greek tourism — despite prevailing challenges, such as the simmering Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war and the energy crisis — is the result of good planning, hard work and collaboration among all players, according to Kikilias.
However, there are many challenges lying ahead, such as the upscale of tourism infrastructure to accommodate more visitors, which requires the implementation of a strong strategy, the minister said.
“Circumstances are still very peculiar, which leaves a lot of question marks for the future. Nonetheless, we are extremely positive about the future,” Vassilikos said.