Greece Sees Big Money in Luring Elderly for Wellness Tourism


Kaiafas Lake in Elis, Greece. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

Part of Greece's plans to diversify tourism beyond sun, sand and islands and the summer months is attracting big-spending older tourists, especially in wellness programs, which could bring as much as 21.8 billion euros ($25.88 billion) annually.

The was the finding in a survey by diaNEOsis, is an independent, private, non-profit research organization based in Athens that said the elderly would be keen for wellness, spa and medical tourism that's far cheaper than most countries.

But while Greek doctors have a sound reputation, the country's public medical facilities and hospitals have been in abysmal shape for generations, often lacking even toilet paper, toilet seats and patients often needing to hire nurses.

It's better in the private sector but the cost is out of reach for all but the most affluent Greeks and tourists for whom it would be cheaper than in the United States or many other countries.

The survey found that if Greece gets another one million tourists a year aged 65 years old or over, who will spend a projected €1.5 billion ($1.78 billion) that the total impact on the economy would go up 3.7 billion euros ($4.39 billion) and 60,000 jobs.

The big money maker is wellness tourism which the report said could bring in as much as 13.5 billion euros ($16.03 billion) and create 171,000 jobs and help accelerate a slow recovery from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.