ATHENS – Already trying to attract big-spending tourists year round to speed an economic recovery during the waning COVID-19 pandemic, Greece now is reaching out to pensioners in northern European countries to spend the winter.
Part of the appeal is because of the high cost of energy, including heating fuels used in abundance in colder climes, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spiking prices all around the bloc, including Greece – which offers fuel and utility subsidies.
Tourism Minister Vasilis Kikilias said the pensioners in cold countries will find winter life warmer and cheaper in Greece, noted SchengenVisaInfo.com in a report on the new strategy, also emphasizing the country’s beauty.
“Lufthansa is willing to increase its flights to Greece by 30 percent for 2023; Austrian flies from Vienna to Thessaloniki and Athens in 1.5 and 2 hours respectively, as do Aegean and Sky Express. All of them understand that there is an opportunity for the industry, for the people of tourism, for our economy, but also for our Northern European partners,” Kikilias said.
He said more hotels and shops will stay open in the winter and that bringing in the pensioners would help Greece’s economy while giving them a more pleasant winter out of the cold at home.
“We moved with the same logic in February-March when everyone was prejudging public opinion, saying that a disaster will come after the war in the heart of Europe, inflation, the energy crisis. And we managed to have a record year with surplus revenues in tourism that essentially support the country’s GDP, the private sector, the average Greek family, and especially the state coffers in a very difficult period for us as well as for all of Europe,” he said.
He will go to Stockholm to make a pitch and also Paris, without indicating why the French would be a target for the plan more than in Scandinavia or other northern European countries.