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Athens Tourism to Cover Lost Ground in 2nd Semester, Says AIA Chief

Athens, Greece. Photo source: @Visit Greece

Athens’ tourism industry will cover lost ground and start to rebound during the second semester of 2022, provided that Covid-19 travel restrictions have loosened, Athens International Airport (AIA) CEO Yiannis Paraschis told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday.

According to Paraschis, the Greek capital’s tourism industry showed resilience during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Although passenger traffic has dropped 45 percent since the start of the year compared to 2019 levels, we are receiving positive messages for the tourism season ahead… The second semester has always been a very significant period for Athens [in terms of arrivals]. We strongly hope that travel restrictions will improve …. allowing Athens to cover lost ground,” he said.

It is reminded that Greece has announced the official opening of the tourism season on March 1, while earlier in February Tourism Minister Vasilis Kikilias confirmed that demand for Greek destinations is gaining momentum.

The AIA Chief also referred to the city’s strong connection with the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry which he expects to rebound in the future.

Paraschis participated in the online presentation of the “17th Survey on Guest Satisfaction and Hotel Performance in Attica” conducted by the Athens – Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association and GBR Consulting.  Also presented were the results of a travel experience study compiled by Athens Airport and the city’s hotel association.

Covid-19 affects air arrivals in January

Photo © GTP

AIA’s passenger traffic continued to be substantially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and its impact on air travel in January 2022, amounting to 773 thousand and being below the respective 2019 levels by 44.5 percent.

In the domestic market, traffic was below the respective 2019 levels by 36.3 percent, while in the international sector, passenger demand presented a 48.4 percent decline vs the corresponding 2019 traffic.

Strong intention for travel

Data presented by AIA during the online event, confirmed the strong will of people to travel despite the ongoing travel restrictions and difficult circumstances of the pandemic.

It is reminded that Athens welcomed a total of 12.35 million passengers in 2021, which is up by 52.8 percent over 2020 figures but still down by 51.7 percent compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

Hellenic Parliament, Athens. Photo © Maria Theofanopoulou

According to the AIA survey:

– six out 10 passengers came from abroad

– younger generations adapted more easily to the new circumstances

– passenger flows from Greece’s source tourism markets started increasing with 12 percent coming from Germany; 12 percent from the US; 11 percent from the UK; 9 percent from France and 6 percent from Italy.

Meanwhile, the survey found that the “fear of crowds” phenomenon affected Athens’ tourism industry with foreign air travelers opting for regional and summer destinations in 2021.

As a result:

– only 55 percent of inbound travelers stayed in Athens in 2021 compared to 68 percent in 2019.

– travelers stayed in Athens for three days instead of four like they did in 2019.

The survey was conducted during July – December 2021 on a sample of 6,481 foreign air travelers.

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About the Author
Eleftheria has worked for several financial newspapers, magazines and websites during the past 19 years. Between 2004 and 2014 she worked as a radio producer, reporter and presenter for the Greek and English language program of “Athina 9.84 FM”. She also has hands-on experience in the MICE industry.

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