ATHENS – All indicators showed Greece heading for a record-busting tourism year in 2022 during the waning COVID-19 pandemic but signs are showing that it might not be hit.
Tourists have been pouring in after the New Democracy government essentially ended health measures in a bid to boost the economy and while it worked, soaring inflation has hurt society.
But the numbers haven’t hit the previous record year levels in 2019 before the Coronavirus struck early in 2020 and brought lockdowns and slowdowns and stalled international air traffic to a near halt.
That has ended and so has concern about the virus although it’s still making thousands ill, putting them in the hospitals and on ventilators and also killing dozens a week in Greece.
There were 19.2 million arrivals through the end of August, which was a boom month but while the government is trying to lure visitors year-round and autumn figures have looked good it seems the numbers might not surpass the 33 million who came in 2019, said Barron’s magazine.
That was one of the few pessimistic reports although it cited the Bank of Greece which said while the first eight months were a 121 percent increase over the same period in 2021 it was 12.4 percent below that of 2019.
In August alone, traditionally the peak of the Mediterranean tourism season, more than 5.8 million foreign visitors came to Greece, a rise of 44 percent on 2021 figures.
Tourism brings in as much as 20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 189.4 billion euros ($187.28 billion) and at its height employed nearly a million people in a country of 11 million.