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Greek Islands On High Capacity Amidst Record Tourist Traffic

Credit: Giuseppe Milo. CC BY-SA 2.0

Several Greek islands are approaching full or high booking capacity as the summer season peaks, local officials tell AMNA.

Their reports appear to be confirming earlier predictions that Greece would reach a record-breaking number of visitors in summer 2022.

Inflow rates to the Cyclades group of islands is already higher than comparable numbers for 2019, before the COVID pandemic curtailed travel, officials say, and they expect August numbers to be even higher, judging by full hotels or annually expected last-minute bookings for August.

Northern Aegean islands have also recovered from the pandemic blow and seem to be increasing in popularity as well, latest data show.

The Greek islands leading the race

As tourist traffic in the Cyclades is moving at a faster pace than in the summer of 2019, which was a record-breaking year for Greek tourism, Andros, Naxos, and Santorini were fully booked for August, with Ios and Sifnos following close. They have reached around 90 percent booking capacity. The ever-popular Mykonos, on the other hand, operates mostly on last-minute bookings, officials have explained.

Antonis Sigalas, the mayor of Santorini, has confirmed an impressive increase over 2019 data and expects favorable results from the expanded tourism season as well as from an island strategy to encourage tourists to book accommodations all over the island instead of focusing on towns like Oia.

“We are consistently committed to boosting Santorini’s position as a luxury destination and to develop niche tourism,” he told AMNA.

In Naxos, arrivals by ship rose by 200 percent in May compared to 2019 and over 94 percent in June compared to 2021, attracting tourists mostly from France, Italy, Britain, Germany, and the United States, according to Vangelis Katsaras, the Deputy Tourism of Naxos & Small Cyclades. Bookings were at one hundred percent in July and the same for August and part of September. However, local hospitality professionals kept prices at reasonable levels, he added.

A satisfying recovery to pre-pandemic rates was also reported by the mayors of northern and eastern Aegean islands.

Some of them, such as Samos, Chios, and Limnos, have exceeded the tourist traffic of 2019, based on the latest available figures. Nonetheless, officials are holding back their enthusiasm until the full picture of the tourist season has been revealed in October.

High inflows are expected to be sustained in September and beyond at several Greek islands of the Aegean at which good booking capacity for the autumn months has been expected.

Greece tourism predictions

In June, German tourism giant TUI stated that it expected a record-breaking number of tourists to travel to Greece this year, as interest in visiting the country had skyrocketed.

The country’s summertime visitors this year could even top pre-pandemic numbers, they believed.

Tourism comprises twenty percent of the Greek GDP and employs countless Greeks. Data from the Bank of Greece in April 2022 indicated that revenues from tourism were above the levels of April 2019, marking an increase of almost one million euros while, in May, international passenger arrivals at Greek airports recorded an increase of 3.2 percent compared to May 2019.

According to experts, 2022’s tourist season will likely bring in about eighty percent of the eighteen billion euros ($18.33 billion) made in 2019.

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