ATHENS – The takings of the big tourism year of 2022, a bonanza even during the waning COVID-19 pandemic, haven’t been fully counted yet but Greece already is looking forward to another blockbuster in 2023.
The gamble a year earlier to lift health measures to attract foreign visitors paid off big-time and saw some 18 billion euros ($19.35 billion) and came close to breaking the record year of 2019 before the Coronavirus struck early in 2020.
Greece is trying new campaigns to get people to come year-round, and not just in the summer for sun, sand, beaches and islands, but for tourism around agriculture, food, archaeological sites, culture, golf and skiing.
The official tourism season in 2023 will begin in 2023, said Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, who told reporters that the goal will be to keep the momentum off 2022 that saw the country one of the world’s hot spots to visit.
“The extension of the tourism season has begun and efforts are continuing for year round tourism,” he said, noting that Delta Airlines continued direct flights to Greece on the New York-Athens seasonal route last year through to Jan. 10 this year.
Delta will relaunch flights in March and other US carriers such as American Airlines and United are expected to follow, said GTP Headlines, which noted more direct flights than even were scheduled by airlines in 2022.
Greece saw nine direct connections a day from America’s largest airports, adding up to 63 flights per week. Routes include Emirates’ Athens-Newark all year round daily direct connection.
Ministry sources not named told the site that more airlines and tour operators are looking towards Greece this year, with the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) making agreements with 10 carriers.
Early bookings are showing that travelers are shifting their interest from Western European countries to other destinations with Greece chief among them, as it has to deal with competition.
The Greek Tourism Ministry and the GNTO this spring will launch a new campaign for 2023 to promote the summer, Kikilias said without giving details about what that would entail or how visitors would be further enticed.
The government also wants to promote domestic tourism for Greeks who have been struggling with high inflation, soaring energy and food costs, many finding themselves unable to afford traveling in their own country.
Another draw will be held for 125,000 digital vouchers, which will cover a portion of vacation costs (accommodation, transport and F&B) at Greek destinations and will pay hoteliers and others immediately.