Tourism Brought Unexpected Bonanza to Greece During Pandemic

ATHENS – Greece continues to revise, upwardly, the tourism take for 2021 which will see as much as 75 percent of the take from the record 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic brought lockdowns and lost revenues.

The news agency Reuters said it would be 50 percent but other reports from the New Democracy government, which opened the door to tourists in July, have put it higher although much of the important markets from the United Kingdom and Russia were held back by health restrictions in their countries.

Tourism in Greece brings in as much as 20 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 175.04 billion euros ($200.3 billion) but in 2020 fell to just 7 million visitors from 33 million the year before, and only 4 billion euros ($4.58 billion) in revenues. It was the worst year on record.

“From January up to August, arrivals were up by 79.2% and corresponding receipts (rose) by 135.7% compared to the same period in 2020, which corresponds to 50% of receipts for 2019 as a whole,” Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias told To Vima newspaper.

“We are on track to achieve receipts of more than 10 billion euros,” he added.

After Greece lifted most of its pandemic-related restrictions before its key summer tourist season, foreigners poured into the country in numbers not expected, and continue to do so in the autumn.

“We have not counted final takings yet,” Kikilias said, adding that September, October were also busy months and that November is continuing the pace as the country tries to become a year-round destination.

The economy fell 9 percent in 2020 during lockdowns aimed at slowing the pandemic, which worked, but it has surged after a vaccination program fell short of the 70 percent mark needed to be further effective.

Under its 2022 draft budget, the government projected the economy will grow by 6.1 percent in 2021, said Reuters, after the European Commission said it could be as much as 7.1 percent.


ATHENS - Greece is on a path to see more than 30 million tourists – three times the population – arriving in 2023 but it's also pushing to increase the so-called MICE market: meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.

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