ATHENS – Even during the waning COVID-19 pandemic, July was a record-busting tourism month in Greece with not just hordes of arrivals but big spenders filling the state treasury.
The month saw the highest-ever travel receipts for any July, smashing through 2019 records set before the deadly pandemic began in March, 2020 and nearly brought tourism to a standstill.
Bank of Greece data showed that tourists brought in 3.723 billion euros ($3.69 billion) in July, visitors drawn when the New Democracy government essentially ended health restrictions.
While it was just a 0.56 percent increase over July, 2019 it was made more impressive by happening during a continuing, if falling, world health crisis that rocked Greece’s economy especially hard.
Curiously, there were 7 percent fewer arrivals in July this year than the same month three years earlier but people were spending more, crazy to travel again and luxuriate after lockdowns and slowdowns.
The average expenditure per traveler increased from 652.50 euros ($647.25) to 705 euros ($699.33) which was an 8 percent jump boosting the tourism sector from restaurants and bars to rented beach lounges.
In the first seven months of 2022, there was a 191.4 percent jump in the number of arrivals over the same period in 2021 when some health measures were still in place, although spending was 2.9 percent short of 2019.
But sources not named told the the newspaper that a Big August will break through into making the first eight months a bonanza for tourism, which is the country’s biggest revenue engine and brings in as much as 20 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 201.92 billion euros ($200.3 billion.)
With Greece trying to lure visitors year-round now with different attractions, September could also be another huge month for travelers, especially those not looking for sun, sand, islands and beaches.
Unless there’s an unexpected turn of events, tourism for all of 2022 could be 5 percent higher in arrivals and 10 percent higher than in 2012 when there were 33 million visitors, this year could break the 20 billion euro ($19.84 billion) mark.