Travelers to Greece extended their holidays last year making the country the best overall performer in terms of nights spent in Europe, according to the latest report released by the European Travel Commission (ETC).
Based on ETC findings, despite recording a 66.6 percent decline in arrivals in 2021, Greece managed to keep tourists longer, which analysts attribute to the country’s “more lenient approach to quarantine”. Top source markets for Greece were Germany, France and Italy with more overnight stays made by British and Russian travelers.
The ETC’s “European Tourism – Trends & Prospects” findings fall in line with Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) data which found that arrivals and overnight stays at hotels and campsites in Greece last year recorded an 87.0 percent increase in nights spent in the January-September 2021 period.
Omicron stunts recovery of European travel sector in Q4 2021
Overall in Europe last year, international tourist arrivals dropped by 62 percent compared to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, with uncertainty created by the Omicron variant negatively impacting Europe’s travel and tourism sector at the end of Q4 2021 and hampering prospects for its recovery in the first quarter of 2022.
In total, airline losses came to 18.5 billion euros in 2021 and down by 1.4-1.5 billion passengers compared to 2019.
Positive outlook for European travel in 2022
Looking ahead, the ETC expects European destinations to benefit from a return of US travelers as long-haul markets begin to open up and predicts tourist arrivals to be just 20 percent below 2019 levels in 2022.
“It is clear to see the stifling impact of uncertainty brought about by Omicron. ETC is optimistic that the European travel sector will overcome Omicron and the many other challenges present in 2022. However, the sector’s resilience is contingent on the EU being proactive in the development of endemic strategies that will allow for the loosening of travel restrictions for intra-European and international travel alike,” said ETC President Luís Araújo.