ATHENS – Happy Days are here again in Greece’s tourism sector – the country’s biggest revenue engine – with reports that spending in 2022 in some areas is passing records set in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said that through Aug. 27 that some 15 billion euros ($14.98 billion) had been raked in so far after some indications it could hit 20 billion euros ($19.97 billion) by year’s end.
That would bust the 2019 record of 18 billion euros ($17.98 billion) when a then-record 33 million visitors arrived, the numbers returning even as the Coronavirus lingers, but Greece removing health restrictions, including masks.
The news was reported by Schengenvisa.com which noted that he also said the Swiss bank UBS estimated that it would bring a growth rate in Greece of as much as 5.7 percent, up from 4 percent forecasts.
The ministry has been trying to lure people to come year-round with attractions outside summer’s offerings of sun, sand, swimming, beaches and islands that are favored by many.
“The messages we receive from tour operators are very encouraging; there is a demand for travel packages for the whole autumn and even for December. We have long since started contact to attract Northern European and German pensioners to spend these months in Greece, where the winter is sweet, and the energy needs are much lower compared to their home countries,” he pointed out.
He earlier said a million people a week were coming in August and indications are they will keep coming at least through September even though Russia airlines are banned under European Union sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.