ATHENS – The summer wasn't as big as expected, but tourists still poured into Greece in the week from Sept. 13-19, raising hopes the country is indeed becoming a year-round destination for visitors, with autumn seen a key.
Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, who has no experience in the field, said occupancy rates at hotels and other tourism accommodation across the country reached 63 percent, far below the record year of 2019 but welcome during the COVID-19 pandemic that made 2020 a wipeout year.
“Most of the tourist accommodation and especially that which is high-end on all our islands and in tourism destinations is busy, and this will continue in October and November,” he said in an interview on Open TV.
“To understand the size of the demand that now exists for the country, the German airline Condor will also operate flights to Crete in November,” he added Greece's biggest airline a big draw.
He also said that Greece was the top destination for French tourists in June, with an increase of 88 percent compared to 2019, bringing an 18 percent jump in critical revenues from that sector.
“For the first time in the history of the French Republic, according to data from France’s tourism organization, Greece in July became the top destination country, even above the domestic tourism of France,” Kikilias said.
Greece is already looking toward 2022 when it's hoped that the pandemic will be over and people can again return to international travel as before, without the fear that the Coronavirus has brought.
He said that Jet2, the largest tour operator in the British market, is asking to offer destinations in Greece, including Athens, from next April. “The British aspire to launch the tourism season earlier,” he also said.