Greece is looking to cover lost ground with tourist bookings into September and October, said Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki.
In an interview to Liberal.gr, she confirmed that tourism performance in 2021 was on an upward trend. June came near to 50 percent of pre-Covid-19 pandemic 2019 levels, July at 70 percent and August appears to be breaking this year’s record, she said.
Overall, tourism performance, she said, will be measured based on the last days of August as well as on activity in September and October, “which means that we must be vigilant”, she said.
The minister went on to add that tourism recovery in some destinations was demonstrating a stronger dynamic based on bookings in the fall, adding that despite the unprecedented circumstances worldwide, Greek tourism is showing resilience.
“There is a considerable improvement compared to 2020, while even compared to 2019, a landmark year for Greek tourism and the last pre-Covid season, the results, despite the difficulties, exceed expectations. In June, tourist traffic reached 50 percent of 2019, in July 70 percent, and in August estimates foresee we will move high and close to the record 2019 levels,” she said.
Zacharaki attributes the positive news to Greece’s vaccination rollout, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ proposal for an EU-wide vaccination certificate, Greece’s timely announcement of requirements and the reopening to tourism as well as to the support provided by domestic travel.
Referring to a Financial Times report that Greece’s tourism sector was leading the way in Europe covering lost ground despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the massive wildfires that hit the country this month, she pointed to the sector’s resilience underlining however that this did not happen by chance.
“It is the result of consistent efforts in the past, of Greece’s very good reputation, of the travelers who chose Greece in 2020 thanks to the enormous efforts of the people who welcomed them, the protocols, constant communication with all our partners at home and abroad, and to Greece’s active participation in international fora to address the challenges caused by the pandemic with proposals and specific solutions,” she said.
Lastly, referring to the ongoing fires across Greece and particularly on the island of Evia, Greece’s second largest, Zacharaki admitted the natural disasters were a blow to the country and its people.
She went on to pledge the tourism ministry’s support, including financial aid, enhanced promotional and marketing campaigns for Northern Evia, inclusion of the island in social tourism programs, and the creation of a tourism educational institute specializing in gastronomy and spa and thermal spring tourism.