ATHENS – Opening the country to tourists earlier and essentially ending COVID-19 health measures has led to a resurgence of the pandemic but it’s also bringing in big bucks – euros – for Greece’s New Democracy government.
Despite not having enough staff, hotels are near capacity, airline seats are hard to find and people are spending like there’s no tomorrow.
So much so that revenues could surpass the record year of 2019, before the Coronavirus struck in 2020 and almost closed down international air travel and tourism for two years.
Estimates for travel spending in Greece compared to that year are on a path to be 10 percent higher for the sector that brings in as much as 18-20 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 190.53 billion euros ($200.3 billion.)
American airlines have added more direct flights but run into the problem of having to cancel flights because after taking $50 billion in federal subsidies and now raising ticket prices they bought out pilots and don’t have enough to fly planes.
Greece’s second quarter began with a 20 percent increase in April revenues and signs that it will continue through June said Kathimerini in a report on the return of foreign visitors and higher spending.
That could set the stage for a big summer boom despite the presence of stinging jellyfish in the seas with almost every part of Greece’s coast and many islands infiltrated by them.
An economist not named told the newspaper that, “Even if we have a mild return of the pandemic from the fall, the figures that will apparently be recorded in the second and third quarters are enough to cover both the losses of the first quarter and any bending of the fourth.”
That matches what was said at the general meeting of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) for a record year, with the group’s President Yiannis Retsos saying the sector could bring in 20 billion euros ($21.03 billion.)
Much of the spending is being done at 4-and-5-Star hotels and luxury resorts with the wealthy pouring into the country and wanting high-end treatment.
Despite the money also overflowing, the government said it can’t afford to cut a 24 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on food with prices rising beyond the reach of many families and inflation the highest since 1993.