Tourism contributed 11.5% to Greek GDP and set a new record in 2023

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At 11.5%, the contribution of Greek tourism to the Greek GDP is formed, with the sector further increasing its footprint this year, with a new historical record. Nevertheless, against the backdrop of the developments in the international economic field, for the next year, 2024, it is still being determined that Greek tourism will maintain a corresponding dynamic.

Tourism contributed 11.5% of GDP and set a new record in 2023.

The data on Greek tourism emerge from the latest annual report of the Institute of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (INSETE), cited by New Money, with data from the entire spectrum of tourism activity and the interim Monetary Policy report published yesterday by the Bank of Greece.

From INSETE's annual report, the direct contribution of tourism to the Greek GDP in 2023 is estimated at 24 billion euros or 11.5%, with five Regions representing almost 90% of the country's receipts, three of which are purely tourist Regions.

For this year, based on the estimates from the Central Bank, Greek tourism figures are expected to exceed the high levels of 2019 due to the increase in cruises. "However, the outlook for tourism figures in the year 2024 may not be so auspicious, as some risk factors remain, such as the global economy slowdown and the possible escalation of the war in the Middle East," the Bank of Greece reported.

So far, for 2023, based on official figures and despite the uncertainty at the beginning of the year due to the impact of ongoing inflationary pressures on the real income of European households, the sector's performance can be characterised as particularly positive. In the period January-September 2023, which also includes the critical, due to seasonality, third quarter, travel receipts amounted to 17.9 billion euros, exceeding by 2.4 billion euros the corresponding receipts last year and by 1.8 billion euros the performance of 2019, a record year for Greek tourism.

In the period January-October 2023, foreign passenger arrivals at all airports in the country exceeded the levels of 2019 by 13.1%. In addition, international arrivals at the country's regional airports were 6.3% more than last year and 14.4% more than the corresponding ones in 2019. At the same time, the country's hotel potential appears strengthened, with the total beds and beds of luxury hotels exceeding those of 2022 and 2019. Employment in accommodation and catering services amounted to 391 thousand people on average in the nine months of 2023, marginally strengthened (by 0.2% and 1.5%) between 2022 and 2019.


Based on the annual report of INSETE, the sector has shown particular resilience and capacity since 2022, the year that marked the exit from the pandemic, even having relevant restrictions during the first months. South Aegean has a 27% share of the collections, Crete has 21%, Attica has 17%, the Ionian Islands has 15%, and Central Macedonia has 9%, collecting almost 90%.

At the same time, for the rest of the destinations throughout Greece, the "hidden surplus value" is a given, starting from the strong imprint of culture throughout the country, but also in a series of attractions and activities, from marine tourism (marinas, blue flags, divers destinations etc.) to the exploitation of the country's mountain destinations (hiking, mountain refuges, climbing fields, ski resorts, canoe-kayak-rafting etc.) and from the traditional settlements to the rich gastronomy and the areas offered for wine tourism.

The annual report from INSETE presents the "x-ray" of Greek tourism in its entire spectrum, whether it is the tourist infrastructure, the hotel potential, the rooms for rent, the furnished houses and villas, the potential of short-term rental accommodation and camping, either for arrivals, receipts, overnight stays and the average length of stay per category of accommodation, etc.

Based on the report's data, the majority of the country's tourists come by plane, followed by road arrivals, with very small percentages for ships and trains. In fact, the trend in air arrivals has strengthened for the period from 2019 onwards if we take into account that their percentage has increased from 66% in 2019 to 76% in 2022, while on the contrary, it has decreased in the remaining categories: car from 31% in 2019 to 22% in 2022, ship from 3% in 2019 to 2% in 2022 and train from just 0.02% in 2019 to 0.01% in 2022. However, as mentioned above, 2022 was not a 'normal' tourism year. In relation to the seasonality of Greek tourism, the bulk of arrivals is traditionally found in the third quarter, with the July-September period gathering 56% of the country's visitor arrivals, based on both 2022 and 2019 data.

The report refers to all 18 strategic directions at the national level from the grouping of the Actions of the INSET study "Greek Tourism 2030 Action Plans" to identify critical areas of intervention in the sector, with the imperative need for the public and private sectors to join forces and organised to ensure the competitiveness and future, healthy development of Greek Tourism in terms of sustainability. The next day presupposes a targeted strategy that SETE has defined in five central pillars: infrastructure, investment and competitiveness, effective destination management, labour market and sustainability.

According to SETE staff, effective decision-making requires reliable information to feed all stakeholders in formulating national, regional and local strategies at the enterprise level. This takes on particular importance in the wake of the pandemic and during multiple geopolitical crises and intense competition between destinations worldwide.

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