“Tourism is reaching 2019 levels,” said Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis on Tuesday, expressing his satisfaction with the performance of the sector, which he said is a driving force of the economy.
Speaking on MEGA channel, Theoharis confirmed that in July and August more than 2 million tourists visited Greece and more than 6 million so far in 2021, which he said was a positive sign.
“We surpassed 2 million tourists in July and August,” said Theoharis, adding that the figure raised hopes for an extended tourist season and a promising year ahead. “The last time we saw such a figure was in pre-pandemic 2019,” he said.
Citing central bank data released on Monday, Theoharis said it indicated that tourism activity was on track to recovery.
Indicative of the demand for Greece, the minister referred to the French, who placed Greece among their favorite destinations this summer with the number of visitors at around 450,000 so far.
He also mentioned a welcome increase in domestic tourism.
Looking ahead, Theoharis said the year’s performance would be based on last-minute bookings, adding however that “based on September data the picture ahead looks good”. He underlined that 2021 was a “transitional year” as conditions are in flux due to Covid-19 developments.
The minister admitted that in the beginning there were some issues and setbacks with regard to Covid controls at ports and airports which were however resolved.
He went on to add that Greece has “won the bet” successfully seeing both international and domestic tourist levels rise, but stressed that vigilance was still necessary particularly with regard to Covid-19 precautionary measures and vaccination.
“Vaccination is the only way to freedom,” he said, adding that returning travelers should test on arrival and take necessary measures including self-isolation at home to protect themselves and loved ones.