Greece welcomed more than two million visitors to its shores in the months of July and August 2021 alone – more than any other European country – marking real success in its vital tourism industry despite the pandemic still raging across the country. world.
The two most popular months for Greek tourism have not seen as many visitors since 2019, which was a banner year for Greek tourism. In remarks he made just before leaving his post, former Greek tourism minister Haris Theocharis praised the country’s performance, adding that Greece has welcomed more than six million tourists this year.
In a SchengenVisaInfo.com report, Theoharis said: “In fact, in July, for the first time, our country overtook France itself as the preferred destination of the French. That is, the French traveled more to Greece than to their own country. This is a very important development. “
This means that more than 450,000 French tourists have visited the Greek islands alone this summer.
The Financial Time reports that the country as a whole has received around 25 percent more tourists than Spain, the country’s traditional tourism competitor.
Meanwhile, the Greek Aviation Authority says that air traffic in the first half of 2021 increased 146.8% compared to 2020. However, this is still a decrease of 63.5% compared to stratospheric levels observed in 2019.
The president of the Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers, Grigoris Tasios, said on Monday during his visit to the 85th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) that Greek tourism this summer has been very positive.
Tourism revenue in Greece is half of record earnings in 2019
In remarks to the media, Tasios said the country’s tourism income this year has already reached half of the skyrocketing income of 2019 – and that tourism is still continuing in many warmer parts of the country, well ahead of the “shoulder season.” “.
“We believe September will be a good month as well,” Tasios added, saying the positive data paves the way for an even more prosperous year 2022 for Greek tourism.
“It looks like we will reach 45-50% of 2019 revenue in almost all destinations and that will lead to a normal 2022,” he said.
Federation President Tasios noted that although the number of overland tourist arrivals from the Balkan states is expected to decline from then on for the remainder of the year, the airport in Makedonia in Thessaloniki is expected to welcome passengers from markets such as Germany and the UK until September, as tourists come to enjoy the heat of shoulder season in Greece.
Tasios said the southern Aegean region, including the Cyclades and Dodecanese archipelagos, had the most overnight stays for an additional year in the summer of 2021.
Greek tourism minister assures us travelers can still visit the country
Greece’s new Minister of Tourism, Vassilis Kikilias, said in a statement that tourists from the United States can continue to visit Greece until the end of the tourist season without being subject to additional restrictions related to COVID-19.
It comes as the United States experiences an increase in the number of infections caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, with many states and companies reinstating masking requirements and making vaccination of their employees mandatory.
“Greece will continue to receive visitors from the United States until the end of the tourist season,” Kikilias assured the public, according to a report from SchengenVisaInfo.com.
Kikilias reiterated that the United States is a major market “which creates added value in the economy of the country”.
Per capita, American tourists spend over 1,000 euros on their trips to Greece, making them one of the top international travelers who spend the most while on vacation in Greece.
“Visitors and tourism professionals in the United States of America and, of course, Greeks abroad, have shown and continue to show their love for Greece and their confidence in the Greek tourism product,” stressed Kikilias.
Greece’s Tourism Minister made his remarks after the Council of the European Union removed the United States from the list of countries considered less exposed to the virus last week. The council urged its 27 member states to tighten their travel restrictions for Americans and to ban non-essential travel altogether.
However, Greece considers the EC recommendation to be non-binding and has decided not to implement it as most of the tourist season has passed.
A NOTAM issued by the Greek Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) indicated that Greece would not follow advice to tighten restrictions for US citizens, despite the surge in infections in the United States and the prevalence of the new Mu variant, which has now been identified in 49 states.
The European nations of Iceland, Ireland, Portugal and Croatia have joined Greece in also refusing to comply with the Council’s recommendations, allowing American tourists to continue crossing their borders. However, Americans still face specific requirements when planning to travel to these countries.
Meanwhile, the United States maintains its own ban on travelers from Europe – and even Canada – which has been in place since the start of the pandemic.
Although the European statistical authority EUROSTAT showed in its latest report that Greece has seen a 60% drop in stays in hotel rooms and other accommodation this year, the 2021 tourist season has saved a lot of business thanks to prudent management.
This includes a successful vaccination program, which targeted residents of the islands and those in the tourism industry in particular. The vaccination campaign enabled more than 65.8% of Greeks to have at least the first dose of a vaccine and 63.4% of the population to be fully immunized.
Those who do not wish to receive the vaccine must meet other requirements, including frequent testing, wearing masks and following other measures.
“Vaccination is the only path to freedom not for others, but for ourselves and our immediate family environment, the people we love. We have to protect them, ”Theoharis said during the summer tourist season.
The World Travel and Tourism Council noted earlier this summer that the Hellenic Republic has set an example for other countries in measures taken to revitalize its economy through the travel and tourism industry.
The relative success of the season is partly due not only to the country’s well-established hospitality industry, but also to the country’s acceptance of a range of different vaccines – not just major Western inoculations – as evidence of inoculation.
Greece recognizes the most vaccines of any European country, meaning travelers from around the world inoculated with any of these products – including Sputnik V from Russia and Sinovax from China – are allowed into the country and are exempt from quarantine restrictions.
The VisaGuide.World travel website has created a tool that lets potential travelers know if their vaccine will be valid in the country they intend to visit.
In his August remarks, Theocharis also praised the national “Tourism for All” program, which has led to an increase in the number of Greeks spending their tourism euros in their own country this summer. He said there had indeed been an increase in this domestic tourism, which was in part an outgrowth of the country emerging from the economic crisis Greece had known for years.
“We intend to expand these programs as much as possible,” Theoharis said. “We will use them as much as we can, we will keep them alive for years to come because we have seen that they have a substantial result.”
The program, which started in June, aimed to allocate 30 million euros to allow 250,000 Greek citizens to enjoy their annual holidays in the Greek islands.