Coming off a banner year in 2022 as the COVID-19 pandemic started waning, Greece is looking ahead to another boom in 2023 and it is on a path to be led by returning hordes of travelers from the United Kingdom.
Greece’s central bank noted a 181 percent increase in foreign visitors over 2021 when the Coronavirus was still prevalent and international air travel hadn’t yet come back as it has now.
Almost 4.5 million Britons were registered at Greek entry points, a record number and nearly 3 million more than in 2021, the British newspaper The Guardian said of one of Greece’s crucial markets.
It was the first time that UK tourists led the list, beating the Germans, for whom Greece has long been a favored destination, Brits especially keen to get about again after lockdowns and slowdowns kept them penned up, and their return has been a big boost to Greek tourism.
Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias told the paper’s Helena Smith that, “In terms of Greece, the Brits are leading the way, and they’re big spenders,” adding to the nation’s biggest revenue engine.
The Bank of Greece data showed that UK UK visitors brought in more than 3 billion euros ($3.17 billion) in 2022, doubling what they had spent the year before when many found it difficult to travel abroad.
“Yes, there may be an energy crisis, and very high inflation and a war in the heart of Europe with households forced to make savings,” said Kikilias, referring to Russia’s ongoing invasion that has seen European Union sanctions against Russian airlines.
“But the data shows that Brits aren’t sacrificing their summer holidays,” he said, with many already making travel arrangements, especially through package deals that are being promoted by agencies.
In the record year of 2019 for Greece tourism, almost 3.5 million UK citizens visited, a little more than 10 percent of the 33.1 million foreign travelers who packed Greece, 2022 falling short of matching that.
“From the early bookings in Britain, it’s clear that this year will be as good, if not better, than last,” Grigoris Tasios, President of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation told the paper.
“Tour operators were requesting more beds and more flights back in November when we attended London’s World Travel Market,” he said, the advance word being that 2023 will be another big one for Greece’s tourism.