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Wildfires, Heatwaves No Deterrent: Greece Had Record Tourism in 2023

Neither record heat nor deadly wildfires – nor floods that washed over Greece’s agricultural heartland in the summer of 2023 could keep tourists away from the country, producing a record bonanza of arrivals and revenues.

That brought in 20.6 billion euros ($21.99 billion) – a 16.5 percent jump from the previous year when COVID-19 pandemic health measures were lifted to lure tourists, which worked, and travelers coming year round now.

The Bank of Greece released data showing the surge in tourism that brought in more than 36 million people, some three times the country’s population, and indications that 2024 might top it again.

The record heat in 2023, which saw temperatures go as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit, wilted tourists but didn’t deter them, the beaches and islands full of flocks of foreign travelers soaking up the sun and sitting in the sea.

The wildfires burned more than 430,000 acres and killed 20 while thousands of tourists had to flee conflagrations on Rhodes, complaining of not getting any rescue attempts from the state, only from locals. They were offered subsidies for this year.

Tourism brings in as much as 20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 203.85 billion euros ($217.6 billion) and employs nearly a million people, although there were shortages as workers left during the pandemic.

But still the tourists came and so many in 2023 that a limit of 20,000 daily was set for the Acropolis that was overwhelmed although the rich can skip the lines and have off-hour private tours for 5,000 euros ($5337.35) each.

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