Greece is preparing to open its tourism this year earlier than ever before, with signs pointing to a double-digit increase in bookings from abroad, as much as up to 30% for the summer 2022 season.
And while it is still too early to estimate this year’s tourism revenue, the €15 billion budget forecast by the financial staff for this year seems, now, rather… conservative.
This is provided, of course, that there will be no new reversal of epidemiological data inside and outside Greece.
In fact, Greek tourism has all the dynamics to reach the revenue-record of €18.2 billion in 2019.
These encouraging projections are coming at a time when Europe as a whole seems more prepared to attempt, after 2.5 years, a partial return to normalcy by gradually lifting restrictions, not only on travel but also on the daily lives of citizens.
The signal that Greece is giving off to its potential foreign visitors this year is that the country will be able to open from the beginning of March.
Even though the summer itinerary of the airlines, which carry seven out of ten foreign visitors to the country, with the rest coming by land and sea, is scheduled to start in the majority of the islands from the end of March or the beginning of April onwards.
The fact that Greece is signalling it is ready again for the 2022 season creates a positive climate abroad in terms of planning and organisation.
Meanwhile, travel receipts more than doubled in 2021, totaling €10.6 billion, up 146.7% compared with the previous year, but remained at 58.6% of 2019 levels, the Bank of Greece (BoG) said on Monday.
Specifically, the central bank said that in December 2021, the current account deficit grew by €1.1 billion year‑on‑year and stood at €1.7 billion.
A rise in the deficit of the balance of goods is accounted for by a larger increase in imports than in exports.
Exports grew by 24.1% at current prices (and dropped by 1.5% at constant prices), while imports rose by 44.7% at current prices (17.1% at constant prices).
In particular, non‑oil exports of goods grew by 21.4% at current prices (10.4% at constant prices) and non‑oil imports of goods increased by 33.7% at current prices (25.4% at constant prices).
The surplus of the services balance doubled, reflecting an improvement in all subaccounts (travel, transport and other services balances).
Non‑residents’ arrivals and the corresponding receipts rose substantially (by 294.0% and 406.9%, respectively).
In particular, receipts and arrivals stood at 60% and 55%, respectively, of the December 2019 levels.
The surplus of the transport balance grew mainly on the back of an improvement in the surplus of the sea transport balance.
The primary income account surplus fell year‑on‑year, due to lower interest, dividend and profit receipts.
The secondary income account surplus increased year‑on‑year, mainly as a result of higher general government net receipts.
In 2021, the current account deficit decreased by 356.6 million euros year‑on‑year and stood at 10.6 billion.
A rise in the deficit of the balance of goods is due to the fact that imports increased more than exports.
In particular, exports grew by 35.2% at current prices (12.7% at constant prices) and imports increased by 36.4% at current prices (13.6% at constant prices).
Specifically, non‑oil exports and imports of goods grew by 26.9% and 27.7% respectively (20.2% and 24.2% at constant prices).
A rise in the services surplus is almost exclusively attributable to an improvement in the travel services balance; however, this was partly offset by a decline in the surplus of the transport balance.
Non‑residents’ arrivals grew by 99.4% and the relevant receipts by 146.7% year‑on‑year, corresponding to 46.9% and 58.6% of the respective levels in 2019.
Net transport receipts dropped by 6.0%.
The capital account surplus dropped year‑on‑year to stand at €431.5 million.
In 2021, the capital account surplus rose substantially year‑on‑year and stood at €4.0 billion.
In December 2021, under direct investment, residents' external assets increased by €287.2 million and residents' external liabilities rose by €530.5 million.
Under portfolio investment, an increase in residents’ external assets is due to a rise of €4.0 billion in residents’ holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills.
Under direct investment, residents' external assets increased by €992.9 million and residents' external liabilities, which represent non‑residents' direct investment in Greece, rose by €5.1 billion.
Under portfolio investment, an increase in residents’ external assets is mainly attributable to a rise of €24.2 billion.
At the end of 2021, Greece's reserve assets stood at €12.8 billion euros.
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