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Greece’s Tourism May Recover Up to 50% of pre-Covid 2019 Levels, Says NBG

Photo source: Visit Greece / H. Kakarouhas

Greece’s tourism sector is showing signs of recovery, according to a study released this week by the National Bank of Greece (NBG) which found that arrivals in June 2021 recovered one-third of pre-Covid-19  2019 levels against 3 percent in June 2020.

NBG analysts said July 2021 had also gained back two-thirds of pre-pandemic 2019 arrival figures against 29 percent in the same month in 2020.

According to the analysts, the findings are “encouraging” and that based on current data, the country’s tourism sector in 2021 should be able to recover up to 50 percent of pre-Covid 2019 levels.

At the same time, the report goes on to add that the same upturn applies to travel receipts. “Recovering 50 percent of 2019 levels could be feasible for the year’s revenues”, it said.

The NBG report attributes the improved performance to strong demand for Greece as demonstrated by incoming flights, search data and booking figures which indicate the strongest recovery in demand on the Mediterranean market.

At the same time, traditional source markets such as Germany continued to drive tourism activity in July and August replacing lesser established markets such as the US and Israel which generated activity in May and June, NBG said.

“Greece is in an extremely favorable position to benefit from the upcoming changes and restructuring as its natural beauty, warm hospitality and cultural heritage offer unique unexploited comparative advantages,” the report said.

NBG analysts go on to refer to actions required to establish tourism as a leading economic driver for the country. These actions include channeling EU recovery funds into hotel infrastructure upgrades, public infrastructure upgrades, and facilitating synergies.

Given World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates of a 20 percent increase in global tourism traffic in 2030 (compared to 2019), Greece’s convergence with the Mediterranean average in terms of seasonality and quality could generate double the level of 2019 tourism receipts or an additional 18 billion euros per year, the bank said.

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