Greece managed in 2021 to recover more than half of 2019 tourism revenues and double the number of arrivals by extending the tourism season past the traditional summer months and launching winter and city break campaigns despite the onset of the Omicron variant.
According to the Bank of Greece (BoG) report for 2021, the number of travelers choosing Greece last year increased by 99.4 percent to 14.7 million visitors over 7.4 million in 2020, generating 59 percent of pre-pandemic level revenues. Leading the way in spending were tourists from Germany, the UK, and France.
More specifically, from January to December last year, inbound traffic through airports rose by 109.5 percent and through road border-crossing points by 69.5 percent.
Tourism-related revenues in 2021 recovered more than half of pre-pandemic levels coming to 10.6 billion euros in total, which central bank analysts attributed to the increase in arrivals and to a 22.1 percent rise in traveler spending.
At the same time, according to the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA), airports in Greece saw activity pick up in 2021 with 12-month passenger traffic up by 80.9 percent compared to the same period in 2020.
In the 12-month period, the number of tourists from the EU increased by 107.0 percent over 2020 to 10.1 million while non-EU visitors rose by 84.4 percent to 4.58 million.
The number of euro area travelers grew by 113.5 percent over 2021 with the number of non-euro area visitors up by 91.6 percent.
A total of 4.6 million visitors to Greece last year were from outside the EU, up by 84.4 percent.
The BoG report does not include cruise passenger arrivals.
In terms of source markets: Germany took the lead with the number of incoming travelers up by 96.6 percent to 3 million, from France up by 150.5 percent to 1.2 million, from the UK up by 48.9 percent to 1.2 million, from the US by 271.6 percent to 396,000 and from Russia by 365.3 percent to 119.500.
For the last month of the year, the number of incoming travelers increased by 294.0 percent over 2020 to 380,500 in December 2021.
A closer look for the same month reveals a 219.7 percent rise in the number of travelers from the EU and by 373.4 percent from outside the EU.
A total of 127,800 visited Greece from euro zone countries and 31,700 from outside the euro zone.
Supporting Greek tourism in December 2021 were the Germans – up by 297.6 percent to 43,200 travelers and the French – up by 503.4 percent to 15,100.
Earlier this week commenting on 2021 tourism revenues, Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the outlook for 2022 was “very good”.
“For 2021, tourism revenues were forecast at 5-6 billion euros. Finally, according to the Bank of Greece, revenues came to 10.4 billion euros for 2021 and the outlook for 2022 is very good,” he said.
Speaking during the AXIA Virtual Roundtable on Tuesday, Kikilias said Greece was “the 5th tourist brand in the world. Our goal is to further improve ‘brand Greece’ with a significant addition: to establish the country as a sustainable tourist destination that offers a high quality tourism product, that respects nature and authenticity.”
“This is a huge industry. It is the locomotive of the Greek economy, contributing 25 percent to the country’s GDP,” he said.