ATHENS – A record run of tourism years in Greece saw the number of visitors swell 20 percent over the past three years, since 2016, a study from the Greek Tourism Confederation's (SETE) research arm, INSETE, found.
The group expects the upsurge to continue until at least 2021, reported the business newspaper Naftemporiki, with Greece still a hot destination for celebrities, weddings on Santorini and its allure spreading on social media sites making it a top Instagram spot.
The rate jumped 10.8 percent in 2017 and 9.7 percent for 2018, with 2019 also expecting to be a banner year, visitors drawn to the Halikidi area of central Macedonia and the renowned beaches, the southern Aegean islands, Crete, the Ionian islands and the greater Athens area.
There was also a 19.2 percent increase in overnight stays despite an overnight tax put on by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, a measure the industry said would hurt but didn't as Greece's attractions just kept people coming and they were willing to pay for it.
The critical numbers though were in how much the visitors spent and saw a jump of 22.8 percent, from 12.7 billion euros ($14 billion) in 2016 to 15.7 billion euros ($17.3 billion) in 2018, the biggest revenue engine for the country.
The record tourism seasons brought a bonanza for workers in the sector too, with the number of those employed in that field now comprising 10.6 percent of all jobs in the country. That was the number for the third quarter of 2018.INSETE attributed the rise to the recovery of tourism since 2014 that overcame the losses sustained in 2009-13 during the beginning of the country’s long economic crisis.