ATHENS – There’s just no stopping tourists from pouring into Greece in 2022 even during the forgotten COVID-19 pandemic, with arrivals and spending on a course to best the record year of 2019 before the coronavirus struck suddenly.
Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said during the Athens International Expo 2022 that it’s been a gangbuster year that saw Greece a leading world attraction and attracting more strategic investors in the sector who want to cash in too.
He said it “turned into an amazing year for tourism in Greece. We upgraded our tourism product, opened up to new markets, attracted higher income travelers, promoted new destinations, and generated revenue that strengthened the national economy, local communities and supported the average Greek family.”
The challenge now, he said, is to keep people coming year round and go beyond the former traditional appeal of sun, sand, summer, and islands, expanding to include ideas such as golf and agricultural tourism among others, and get people to destinations other than islands or favored spots, said GTP Headlines.
The first eight months of the year produced 12.7 billion euros ($12.6 billion) in revenues, said Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki, the site said, more impressive than even optimistic earlier forecasts expected.
Speaking at the RouteLab tourism conference, Zacharaki said the sector’s good performance comes at a time of significant challenges, including the energy crisis and inflationary pressures, the site added.
Travelers were up 121.8 percent in January-August 2022 over the same period in 2021, benefiting from the New Democracy government essentially ending health measures against COVID in a bid to bring in money.
She also noted the creation of the Mediterranean Coastal and Maritime Tourism Observatory, the first research station dedicated to measuring sustainable coastal and maritime development across the Mediterranean. The body will be set up in Greece in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
“It is our obligation to provide opportunities so that together with local governments the necessary infrastructure can be developed to ensure each region increases its share in the tourism product,” she also said.
Greece used the important World Travel Market (WTM) exhibit in London, the feature event for travel industry professionals, to promote its campaigns to keep tourists coming all year long.
The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) was at the annual B2B exhibition, with a brand new multifunctional pavilion to highlight Greece’s identity, the news site also said.
In its 42nd year, WTM London returned to a live, pre-pandemic format, at London’s ExCeL that gives countries a chance to show off their attractions as they compete with each other for travelers.
The Future of Travel Starts Now was the theme, with international air traffic returning with a bang as the COVID-19 pandemic is waning although people are still becoming infected, hospitalized -and dying too.
The best of Greece was presented to the United Kingdom market and the rest of the world from the revamped Visit Greece/GNTO stand, which will host more than 80 Greek exhibitors, including regional tourist boards, travel trade partners, travel agencies, hotels, resorts, tour operators and other players, the site also said, with Greece a big lure for British holidaymakers while the UK is the country’s second-largest source market and has helped provide what looks to be a record year in 2022 despite the coronavirus, with fears receding.
The Bank of Greece said that the number of UK tourists jumped 316 percent to over 3 million while their spending rose 173.1 percent to over 2.2 million euros ($2.2 million) in the first eight months.