ATHENS – Tourism has become a roller coaster ride of hopes and reality checks in Greece during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic but the government is counting on its Greece 2.0 Recovery and Resilience Fund to keep people coming.
Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias wrote on the website news247.gr that the ministry will “change the model and achieve the maximum possible result,” and, with European Union help, pour in 320 million euros ($361.74 million.)
He said the money will go toward projects, ranging from “destination management and mountain tourism to health and wellness tourism, agritourism and gastronomy.”
Greece is hoping to lure foreign visitors year round, that now temporarily set back by the surging Omicron Variant that has already seen bookings for the spring and summer falling off, dashing current expectations.
Kikilias said the new initiative will “mark the beginning of a new cycle of development in the tourism sector, with benefits for everyone and with the realization through the pandemic that we live in a beautiful country that we must protect for ourselves, our children, the generations to come and the people from all over the world who dream of experiencing some of its magic every year.”
Based on the data so far and barring any dramatic changes brought by the pandemic, he said the upcoming tourist season can be the new benchmark for Greek tourism, Kikilias said, describing it as a “starting point of a new era.”
Tourism accounts for as much as 20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product of 177.19 billion euros ($200.3 billion,) and at times has accounted for nearly one million workers in the sector directly and indirectly.