The Tourism Minister of Greece Haris Theoharis declared on Friday that Greek tourism, thanks to both foreign and Greek travelers, has been given a “vote of confidence in the Greek summer.”
Tourists have flocked to many Greek destinations over the past two months, seemingly making up for lost time.
The two months of July and August, typically the most heavily visited period during the year, proved to be no exception in 2021, with hotel and other accommodations occupancies in many cases exceeding 85%, according to Theoharis.
This, he says, constitutes a vital rebounding in tourism this year, considering the tremendous blow it withstood last year, when most of the world’s travelers were stuck at home.
More than six million foreign tourists
“So far we have exceeded 6 million visitors from abroad, taking into account the latest figures for August. In the last two months alone, it seems that we will exceed two million visitors, a performance that we (last saw in) 2019,” Theoharis stated on Friday.
Supporting his assertions, recent data from the Bank of Greece for the month of June shows an increase of 317.1% in tourist arrivals, as they exceeded 1 million, with first place held by the Germans (237,000) and the French (85,000).
These early-season stats are perhaps especially impressive since tourism officials had been worried that the mid-May reopening of Greece to tourists would create a lag in tourism arrivals to the country.
Meanwhile, tourism revenues, according to data announced by the Bank of Greece for the first half of 2021, increased by 51% compared to the corresponding period of 2020, amounting to a respectable 1.1 billion euros.
In this context, tourism industry players, speaking to AMNA, said that they were looking forward to seeing how the two months of September and October would play out, and how many arrivals they would bring to the country.
Tourism flows “went extremely well” for July and August
For this reason, they say, they urge everyone to continue observing the health protocols as called to do by the nation, in order for Greece to continue to draw visitors.
Dimitris Fraggakis, the general secretary of EOT stated that strict adherence to all sanitary measures will result in a good conclusion of the end of the tourist season for Greece.
He added that “our preparation in EOT for this season had already started last year. With a new campaign, adapted to the new data, but also extremely flexible, with agreements with airlines and tour operators, we prepared very purposefully in the field of promotion.
“The 2021 season started recognizably in June, but, as we had estimated, the tourist flows moved extremely well in July and August.”
For Fraggakis, the issue of the opening of Greek tourism was, and remains, security.
“We all have to be very careful, so that we have respectively good tourism flows in September and — why not — in October as well. The observance of the measures, the strengthening of the vaccination campaign and the responsibility of all those involved, can bring a good return for tourism at the end of this season,” the general secretary stated.
Hotel occupancy hovering around 80%
Alexandros Vasilikos, the President of the Hotel Chamber of Greece, or XEE, stated to AMNA that the next few weeks and months will be crucial for tourism revenues this year.
Vasilikos says that in June the average occupancy of hotels in Greece as a whole reached 30.4%; in July it reached 58.4% and in the first two weeks of August, it approached 80%, reaching a very impressive 78.4%, especially considering that the pandemic is still playing out across the world.
The average nightly price for hotel or other accommodations this Summer in Greece was 89 euros in June, 107 euros in July and 116 euros in the first two weeks of August. All the tourism officials stressed that the next two months will be definitive regarding the success of the 2021 tourism year for Greece.
The vice-president of XEE, Christina Tetradi, told interviewers that those in the hotel business in Greece were greatly relieved as they saw the influx of tourists the first two months of the season, since during July-August, occupancy in hotels and many other destinations exceeded an astounding 85%.
One such destination was Greece’s Ionian Islands, which, after British were allowed into he country, saw an enormous amount of tourist traffic. The Vice-President of the FDI says that her wish is for Greece to continue the course that it has set this Summer and for the country to continue to be a preferred destination for potential travelers.
Tetradi notes that this tourism season has a “Greek flavor,” since Greek visitors have formed a big part of the tourist flows in the Greek islands and beyond. This, she says, was achieved by the response of the Greek public to the programs created by the Ministry of Tourism and Labor, to encourage the Greek people to spend their vacations in Greece.
Naturally, it would have been impossible this year to exceed the record revenues chalked up during 2019, which was a milestone year for Greek tourism as a whole.
During those heady days, a staggering 18.2 billion euros flowed into Greece.
Andreas Andreadis, the honorary president of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) and the CEO of the Ikos/Sani Group, put many of the worries about 2021 tourism to rest recently in a post on Twitter, in which he pointed out that Greece will easily reach the 9 billion euro mark in tourist revenues this year.
Considering the hammer blow that world tourism experienced as a result of the pandemic over all of 2020 and the first few months of 2021, Greece’s share of the tourism pie this Summer appears to be nothing short of miraculous.