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Greece Aiming to Make Mykonos and Santorini Sustainable Tourism Destinations

Vassilis Kikilias

The Greek Tourism Ministry is preparing a special study aiming to achieve more sustainable tourism practices for the two “household brands” of the country’s tourism: Mykonos and Santorini, according to Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias.

In an interview to Greek newspaper VIMA, Kikilias said the study follows the government’s aim to transform Greece into a sustainable tourism destination.

“This study will capture the current situation on the two islands in terms of incoming tourist flows, the offered tourism product and their infrastructure, with the aim to transform them from ‘overcrowded peak season islands’ to ‘models of sustainable development’,” he said.

Kikilias added that he will have more news on the issue in a few weeks when he presents the tourism ministry’s action plan for both the immediate and medium-term.

2021 tourism performance

Regarding the performance of Greek tourism so far, the minister said that during the eight-month period of January-August the country welcomed an increase of arrivals by 79.2 percent with travel receipts up by 135.7 percent compared to the same period of 2020, which correspond to 50 percent of the revenue collected in 2019. He added that in August, receipts amounted to 75.8 percent of the same month in 2019.

Moreover, Kikilias said that hotel occupancy in September exceeded 65 percent throughout the country, while in October significant tourist movement was recorded at Greek mountain destinations, thanks to domestic travelers.

Referring to this month, the minister noted that several Greek tourism destinations are still seeing visitors which leads to the conclusion that city break tourism is gradually recovering.

With regard to this year’s receipts, the minister said that he expects the year to close with revenues over 10 billion euros, an amount much higher than the original forecast of 5-6 billion euros.

“We performed well because we informed on when and how we would open and in accordance to which protocols and measures,” he said, adding that Greece gave travellers the chance to plan their trips with “the least possible surprises”, based on the given reality of the pandemic, and also put forward the feeling of safety which is what people put first when choosing a destination this year.

Kikilias added that the EU Digital COVID Certificate, an idea initially tabled by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to facilitate safe free movement within the European Union, also helped tourist flows.

Positive signs for Greek tourism in 2022

Regarding next year’s tourism season, the minister said although it is still early to make any predictions, the first signs are positive, a conclusion he came to following talks and deals made with airline companies and tour operators at recent international tourism fairs in Paris and London.

Aegean Airlines Airbus A320 at Santorini International Airport in Greece on Aug. 19, 2020.

Photo: Alexandros Michailidis /

“Bookings are moving at increased levels compared to 2019, while all major airlines are increasing the number of seats available for Greek destinations by adding new routes… From mid-March to early April, the season will start earlier than ever,” he said, setting a goal in 2022 to surpass the tourism figures of 2019.

“This is not something that can happen automatically but depends on proper planning and preparation by all stakeholders, public and private…. Good results in tourism are a national goal,” he highlighted.

Upcoming visit to Turkey

During the interview, Kikilias announced that he will visit Turkey this week to attend the 4th session of the Joint Committee on Tourism in Izmir and meet with his Turkish counterpart, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.

“The previous joint ministerial committee meeting in the tourism field was held 10 years ago, in October 2011. Since then, our bilateral relations have gone through difficult paths, while many things have changed in our economies and in tourism,” the minister said.

Kikilias stressed that Turkey is a country with which Greece sincerely seeks to have good neighborly relations.

“At the same time it is a country with which we have specific differences and problems. But tourism is a field in which there can be a minimum level of understanding and further strengthening of our relations. This is what we will pursue in Izmir next week and I look forward to returning with positive news. Both countries and their peoples need it,” he said.

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  1. Larry Rivero Reply

    Please get rid of all plastics
    Impose a tax to reduce automobiles being brought on island by non residents .
    Limit a total number of cars being rented on island .
    Use of more solar energy for things like street lights .

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