Despite the waning COVID-19 pandemic and the political turmoil the EU is currently facing with the Russian invasion in Ukraine, July was a record-breaking month for tourism in Greece. July saw a high flux of tourists arriving in the country while the state treasury was also filled by big spenders.
The month saw the highest-ever travel receipts for any July, bringing tourism to pre-pandemic levels. Estimates for travel receipts this year point to a significant growth compared to 2019.
Data shows significant results
More specifically, Bank of Greece data showed that tourists brought in 3.723 billion euros in July, which is when the New Democracy government essentially ended health restrictions. While the data points to just a 0.56 percent increase over July 2019, this number is impressive judging from how hard Greece’s economy was rocked during the two years’ global health crisis.
Arrivals also increased at Athens International Airport in July 2022 compared to the same month in 2019. There were twenty-nine percent more arrivals from Germany, fifteen percent more from France, and nineteen percent from Israel. There was also a 257 percent increase in Serbian arrivals and a 177 percent rise in Turkish visitors.
Tourists also spent more. The average expenditure per traveler increased from 652.50 euros to 705 euros which was an eight percent increase, boosting the tourism sector, especially hospitality businesses.
In comparison to 2021, the first seven months of 2022 showed a significant 191.4 percent increase in the number of arrivals although spending was 2.9 percent short of 2019.
This increase is critical as the first eight months for tourism comprises the country’s biggest revenue engine and brings in as much as twenty percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 201.92 billion euros.
If September proves lucrative, as well, tourism for all of 2022 could break the twenty billion euro mark, by showing a five percent increase in arrivals and a ten percent increase in comparison to 2012, when there were thirty-three million visitors.
Greece wants an extension of the tourism season
Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias has mentioned that the total number of tourists will be determined at the end of 2022, noting that an extension of the tourism season was one of the key reasons for this result, especially in regard to the start of the season. All necessary actions have been undertaken to ascertain that the tourist season end as late as possible this year.
“The messages we are getting from tour operators are very encouraging; there is demand for tourist packages throughout the autumn and even in December,” Kikilias says.
“And because it is crucially important to always be one step ahead, for some time we have started contacts in order to attract North European and German pensioners to spend these months in Greece,” Kikilias has added, “where the winter is milder and energy demands are smaller compared [to] their own countries.”
“In this way, [tourists] will save on money they would spend on heating if they stayed home and at the same time have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Greece and get to know Greek hospitality,” the Minister explained.
According to Kikilias, the favorable course of tourism this year is also reflected in short-term rentals (Airbnb reservations) in which an increase of 26.5 percent has been recorded for the months of July, August, and September in comparison to the same months of 2019.