ATHENS – With the COVID-19 pandemic waning and health restrictions essentially ended, so many tourists are coming into Greece that the summer could bring a year breaking records for arrivals and revenue.
Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said he expects a wave of visitors to become a tsunami through the rest of the summer, with August seeing the hordes continuing to come and spending big, weary of lockdowns.
He said August could see as many as a million people a week arriving from around the world even with the loss of Russians after that country’s airlines were banned under European Union sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine.
If those numbers go on it would mean Greece would surpass the previous record year of 2019 that saw 33 million arrivals – three times the population and 18 billion euros ($18.3 billion) in revenues, said SchengenVisaInfo.com.
The biggest markets are Germany and the United Kingdom although some 500,000 Americans, led by the vast Diaspora wanting to vacation in the homeland, are also leading the charge.
Besides the usual popular destinations on the mainland, now including Athens, and islands including Mykonos, Santorini, and Corfu, other spots have proved alluring, with Germans and the British favoring Rhodes and Chania on Crete, already surpassing 2019 levels.
“The tourist season in Greece started earlier than ever, and we are working hard to finish it by the end of 2022,” said Kikilias, the ministry trying to make the country a year-round destination with attractions than beaches and islands.
The site earlier said that Greek airports had more than 3.4 million tourists in June, far higher than the same month in 2021 when there were still some health measures in place and international travel limited.
“We will try to lengthen the tourist season and bring in more high-income travellers. We are living in a global crisis, and I will continue to say it because some people think that what is happening this year is business,” said Kikilias earlier.
While visitors go far and wide across the country, the Acropolis is packing them in too with more than 16,000 people a day viewing the historic splendor, most of them from the United States.