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Long-Haul Well-Heeled Travelers Favor Greece for Vacation Spot

ATHENS – Greece’s quest for as many tourists as possible, despite businesses taking over beaches, is seeing the affluent who take long air trips over 10 hours for destinations picking the country as one of their favorites.

Greece joined the United States, Australia, China, Japan, Korea and Canada as spots that people were willing to travel for so-called long-haul voyages, although many have the means to do so in Business or First Class.

Most of the travelers in those classes are in the upper-income bracket and spend big too, making them a prime target for the government with tourism being Greece’s biggest revenue engine.

They out spend those from European markets such as Germany – the European Union’s biggest economy – and France, Italy and the United Kingdom, which altogether provide the most visitors.

This is according to the Long-Haul Travel Barometer (LHTB), the latest survey by the European Travel Commission and Eurail BV on a broad sample of respondents in those overseas markets about their travel intentions in 2024.

The data tied Greece with Austria as the top preferences of Americans, where this is a big Diaspora, among those intending to come to Europe in 2024, sixth among Canadians, seventh for Brazilians and South Koreans and ninth for the Japanese and the Chinese.

Those combined markets, particularly increased interest from Asian countries, is propelling a big comeback in Greece’s economy from the 2010-18 austerity crisis that required 326 billion euros ($347.86 billion) in international bailouts.

Across all markets, 38 percent of respondents are willing to spend more than 200 euros per day, more than double the average per capita daily spent in Greece in 2023, which was a record-buster.

Security, quality of accommodation infrastructure and price competitiveness are the three main criteria for the long-haul travelers and Greece has consistently been in the top 10 for them.

Travel receipts in 2023 showed a 24.5 percent increase over the previous year when Greece was coming back from the effects of lockdowns and slowdowns during the waning COVID-19 pandemic.

The first two months of 2024, the dead of winter that is usually the slowest although the Travel Ministry is trying to lure people to come year round, brought in 589.7 million euros ($627.32 million) for a robust start, a 25 percent annual jump.

According to Bank of Greece data, non-resident traveler arrivals also increased by 20.7 percent compared to the first two months of 2023, showing that Greece’s efforts to lure people year round is working.

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