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Overtourism in Greece Makes Travelers Change Vacation Dates

overtourism. tourists flood the acropolis of athens
According to new data, overtourism in Greece may be causing travelers to change their vacation dates.. Credit: Matías Callone CC2 / Flickr

According to recently released survey data, European travelers are increasingly avoiding trips to Greece during the peak season due to overtourism.

August is a particularly busy month, but more and more tourists are opting to visit Greece at different times in the year to avoid overcrowded beaches, hotels, and cultural attractions. Evidently, the stresses of overtourism are enough to potentially ruin a holiday and visitors prefer to visit Greece at a quieter time of the year.

The data was collected by the Mindhaus survey that was conducted on behalf of the European Travel Commission. The data was collected from a sample of 6,000 people from the main Greek tourism markets in March.

Overtourism and travel trends in Greece

According to the data, nearly 30% of tourists intend to visit Greece between April and May. This represents a 6% increase over the same period last year.

Approximately 40% are planning to visit the country in the summer months of June or July but only 23% of the survey’s respondents think that they will travel to Greece in August and September, which represents a 9% decrease for this period since last year.

However, based on other datasets, the overall picture for the Greek tourism sector seems to be one of growth this year. In February, Greece’s Minister of Tourism Vassilis Kikilias said that Greece will experience a 20% increase in tourism in 2023.

This might be somewhat of a mixed blessing for Greece given the concerns raised about overtourism by the European Travel Commission’s more recent data.

The survey also measured more broad tourism trends in Europe. The data shows that the majority of Europeans are still keen to travel this year despite a more uncertain economic climate and a slight decrease in the numbers intending to travel.

Notably, 72% of Europeans intend to travel between April and September 2023, which is down by about 5% when compared to the same period last year.

Impacts and consequences

The statistical shift is likely representative of a desire to avoid the busiest periods of the year when a multitude of visitors descend upon the idyllic beaches and iconic historical sites which have made the country so popular in the first place.

The overtourism problem in Greece is very much a case of the country being a victim of its own success. Of course, tourism is greatly welcomed and encouraged due to the economic benefits it brings and the opportunities for cultural exchange, but the sheer volume of people can place a great degree of stress on infrastructure and resources.

For example, there were concerns last year that Greek beaches were far too overcrowded during the peak season, causing some visitors to the country considerable dismay.

In some places last year, piles of rubbish were left on certain beaches, such as at Zakynthos’ Navagio Beach. This not only besmirched the aesthetic appeal of such beaches, but also posed an ecological threat to local wildlife.

There are also concerns that overtourism could pose a risk to Greece’s many historical monuments, which draw in large numbers of visitors each year.

In November last year, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis highlighted this issue during a UNESCO conference when he said that “excessive tourism” could place a huge burden on popular historical sites, and that visitors should be encouraged to explore other lesser known monuments as well.

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