“Our aim is in 2022 to move forward with a full tourism restart,” said Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias during a parliamentary session on the 2022 budget this week, announcing that the “summer season” will begin earlier in March or April 2022 “for destinations which can support it”.
The minister expressed confidence that 2022 will be a year of complete post-Covid-19 recovery, adding that airlines, tour operators, and cruise companies are already increasing flights, seats, itineraries and destinations.
Kikilias went on to add that a new, international campaign promoting Greece’s winter destinations was up and running. Two more are in the pipeline focusing on domestic tourism and city break destinations such as Athens and Thessaloniki.
Referring to the country’s tourism performance, the minister said that traffic to September increased by more than 90 percent compared to 2020, travel receipts by 140 percent, while the travel balance showed a surplus of 8.033 billion euros – 5 billion euros more than the corresponding surplus in 2020.
He said he expects the year to close with over 10 billion euros in revenues, while “initial forecasts set revenues in the range of 5-6 billion euros”. According to Kikilias, average per capita spending also increased in 2021 by more than 20 percent with visitors spending more than 600 euros each on average during their stay.
“The quantitative indicators reveal two tangible and clear quality characteristics: First, the creation of new jobs for Greek citizens and second, an increase in income for all professions that are directly or indirectly related to the tourism product,” he said.
Kikilias went on to refer to the reasons travelers choose Greece, which include high vaccination rates, the sense of safety, and a singular tourist experience.
Ministry goals, said Kikilias, were promoting lesser-known destinations, extending the tourist season, establishing Thessaloniki as a home port, making Greece an attractive destination for digital nomads, and setting the groundwork for sustainable growth.
Lastly, he referred to the importance of channeling recovery funds and EU support resources effectively as they provide a unique opportunity for sustainable and accessible growth and transformation in the next five years.
“Tourism concerns us all. It’s a difficult, complex, but extremely dynamic industry [consisting] of millions of Greeks who converge and work together to create a leading global product,” he said.