As Greece finally reopens to the world on Friday, tourism officials state they are expecting to double the number of tourists — and revenues — over last year, when the pandemic gutted this vital sector of the economy.
This sector accounts for about one-fifth of its economy directly and undoubtedly much more indirectly.
The Greek island of Mykonos saw the first air arrivals from central Europe on Thursday as the islands opened up to foreign tourists who were either completely vaccinated, tested negative for the virus or could show that they had antibodies against it.
Last year, with a patchwork of lockdowns all over Europe, the Americas and the rest of the world, tourists were shunted away from their favourite Greek tourist destinations after enjoying a successful year for tourism in 2019.
Greece tourism arrivals dipped over 75% in 2020
The Greek economy overall dipped a staggering 8% last year. Tourism revenue, still very much a vital part of the economy despite the country’s desire to diversify, plunged to 4.28 billion euros ($5.0 billion) in 2020 from 18 billion euros ($21 billion) in 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Greek Tourism Confederation Institute, the number of tourist arrivals also fell 76.5 per cent to just 7.4 million.
According to the British bank HSBC the anticipated increase in tourism this year is poised to add 2% to Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to a new report released on Thursday.
Despite an overall disappointing year in 2020, Greece managed to eke out nearly a quarter of its usual tourism business from June to November, according to data compiled by the Bank of Greece.
Pan-island vaccination campaign touts safe Summer vacations.
Greece embarked upon a program of vaccinating all island residents this past Spring, with the stated goal of inoculating all of them, regardless of age, by June 25.
According to Athens-Attica and Argosaronic Hotel Association spokeswoman Lia Falirea, Greece is a safe vacation destination key, who spoke to Chinese newspaper Xinhua.
With archeological attractions is why Greece is a chosen destination. Falirea said that safety was the second most crucial reason tourists come to the country.
Yesterday, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis stated that “our country has already recovered 33% compared to 2019, while Europe stands around 20%.”
Theoharis has made the reopening of Greece to tourists his number-one priority this past Spring.
Major tour operators have signed on, and airline companies, citing considerable increases in the numbers of searches with Greece as the destination, have added several new flights to the country.