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Two Popular Greek Islands During the Tough 2020 Tourist Season

popular greek islands
The Greek island of Serifos, in the western Cyclades. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The most popular Greek islands for the past summer weren’t Mykonos or Santorini. The stunning Greek islands of Skyros and Serifos found themselves thriving through the difficult — some would say brutal — 2020 tourist season by appealing to Greek tourists, according to new data.

The Covid-19 crisis understandably hit the tourist industry extremely hard, as travel restrictions, lockdowns, and fear over the virus prevented tourists from coming to destinations that heavily depend on tourism to survive economically.

According to data from 2019, tourism alone accounts for over a quarter of Greece’s GDP.
Additionally, it accounts for a large portion of the country’s workforce, with numbers ranging from 16.7% all the way to 44.2% if professions that are indirectly related to tourism are also included in the figure.

Popular Greek Islands offer escape

The Greek islands, by their very nature — in a world by themselves, sometimes far from the mainland and ringed with beaches and scenery which beckon travelers from all over the globe — are especially dependent on tourism, and many feared hotels and restaurants there would remain empty this past summer because of the coronavirus.

However, on Skyros, located in the lush, green Sporades island chain, off Evia, and Serifos, in the western Cyclades, domestic tourism flourished this year, and accommodations there were nearly filled with visitors, running at 80% capacity.

popular Greece islands
Agios Fokas on the Greek island of Skyros. Credit: Jim Makos / CC BY-ND 2.0

Greek tourists filled the void of foreigners

Speaking to the Greek press, Nikos Mavrikos, the mayor of Skyros, noted that the island was able to maintain nearly the same level of tourism as in summers past — and this is due to the happy fact that the island traditionally attracts Greek tourists.

Local leaders on Serifos understood that international tourism would take a major hit in the summer months, so they started an advertising campaign targeting domestic tourism in the country, using the hashtags #serifos2020 and #metaximas.

After both islands focused almost exclusively on the Greek market, they came out of an extremely difficult summer season, in unprecedented times, with great success, marking a bright spot in an otherwise troubled year for European tourism.

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