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South Aegean Islands Winners in Greece’s Race for Tourism Recovery

South Aegean Tourism Initiative

The South Aegean islands, which include popular traveler destinations such as Rhodes, Mykonos, and Santorini, broke all records this year attracting over 3 million visitors so far, the South Aegean Tourism Initiative (SATI) said this week. 

More specifically, more than 3 million people visited the islands in the region between May 13 and November 14gaining back a large part of pre-pandemic 2019 levels, the tourism body said.

The region’s islands managed to extend the tourist season beyond August with the last direct flight touching down in Rhodes on November 14. Despite the unprecedented Covid-19 health crisis, the region’s Cyclades and Dodecanese islands emerged winners in Greece’s race for tourism recovery.

Photo source: South Aegean Tourism Initiative

According to SATI, international arrivals continued into November, contributing to the extension of the season by 15 days and topping the 2019 tourist period.

Indicatively, the airport of Rhodes, the region’s largest, welcomed 1,405,038 passengers, recovering approximately 70 percent of pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

The island of Kos gained back 63 percent of 2019 levels welcoming 688,527 visitors on direct international flights, while summer favorite Mykonos reclaimed 76 percent of 2019 levels welcoming 360,402 visitors. Greece’s most popular island, Santorini, nearly reached 2019 levels achieving 91 percent recovery with 471,796 arrivals.

In terms of markets, leading the way in October, according to SATI, were travelers from Germany, the UK and Holland, who chose Rhodes and Kos while British and French vacationers opted for the Cyclades – Mykonos and Santorini, in particular.

Established in January 2021 by the regions governor, George Hatzimarkos, the South Aegean Tourism Initiative is a body made up of tourism, trade and hotel stakeholders and their relevant associations and chambers.

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