ATHENS – The coronavirus is still around but you’d never know it from looking around at people no longer wearing masks and it hasn’t deterred so many tourists from coming to Greece in 2022 it will bring in big revenues.
Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, who earlier noted people were coming deep into the autumn and are being lured for winter destinations, said the year is on a course to break estimates by 3 billion euros ($3.15 billion.)
“The goal set in the government budget last year was for tourism revenues to reach 80 percent of 2019 levels or 15 billion euros ($15.74 billion.) With hard work and against multiple crises, the goal was not only achieved but the year appears to be coming to a close with an additional 3 billion euros,” said Kikilias adding that this was a “great victory.”
In an interview with Real News, Kikilias said he was delighted over the tourism numbers that he said were also attributable to persuading foreign visitors to keep coming past the peak summer months.
He said travelers are still coming in December and that 11 airlines have agreed to boost flight capacity and destinations for off-season months such as December, January, February, and March.
Tourism brings in as much as 20 percent or more of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 206.8 billion euros ($216.2 billion) and had employed nearly a million people at its highest.
He also said that eight in 10 investments made in Greece are directly or indirectly linked with tourism, in particular, developments by luxury resorts and 5-Star accommodations for the wealthy and the super-rich.
He also said that hotels and restaurants are benefiting after worries earlier this year that there wouldn’t be enough service staff to deal with the numbers of visitors and Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) data showing they exceeded 2019 levels by 22.1 percent for hotels and 19.8 percent for restaurants.
Greece is the number one destination in Europe and at the same time the country is marking the fastest recovery, said Kikilias and he pointed out New Democracy government measures to help hotels and tourism businesses.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy government gambled on essentially ending COVID-19 pandemic health measures and it has paid off despite the continuance of scores of thousands of cases weekly, hospitalizations and deaths.
Greece was one of the world’s hot spots for people wanting to travel again as international air traffic resumed after two years of lockdowns and slowdowns that brought the sector to a crawl before a comeback.
At the end of August, Kikilias said in some areas of Greece income from arrivals and trips had increased compared to the period before the pandemic.
Bank of Greece data showed that the increase in the number of international travelers arriving in May led to a rise in travel receipts by a total of 536.4 per cent and by 547.9 in the first five months of this year, which means that the figures exceeded April levels, the site said.