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Greece Seeks Ways to Compensate for Russia-Ukraine Impact on Tourism

Photo © GTP

Greece tourism authorities are looking for ways to address the possible backlash on tourist inflows and revenues created by the Russian-Ukraine conflict.

The country was counting on welcoming more that 300,000 travelers from Russia this year and now as a result of the crisis is faced with the loss of one of its main source markets.

Indicatively, more than 583,000 Russian travelers visited Greece in pre-pandemic 2019 and spent a total of 433 million euros, according to central bank data. Now their country’s federal agency for tourism, Rostourism, is advising against leisure travel to countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia, including Greece. Instead they recommend travel to neighbor and rival Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, China, India, and Vietnam.

Late last week, Kathimerini reported that Russia’s Ambassador to Cyprus, Stanislav Osadchiy, told local media that European countries imposing sanctions on Russia have “shot themselves in the foot”.

Earlier this week, Russia closed off its airspace to 36 countries including Greece.

At the same time, tourism professionals in Greece are on edge waiting to assess the changes in bookings and booking behavior from the rest of Europe.

Greece to Open 50,000 Jobs to Support Ukrainian Refugees

In the meantime, standing in solidarity with Ukraine, Greece announced on Monday that it would make available some 50,000 jobs in hospitality for Greek expatriates, Ukrainians and Pontic Greeks.

“We are already accepting refugees from Ukraine, diaspora Greeks, Pontic Greeks and Ukrainian refugees to whom we will try to offer the chance to work with fast-track procedures in consultation with the tourism and hospitality industry in addition to offering residence permits and care,” said Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias during a tele-meeting on Wednesday, with Ukraine Ambassador to Greece Sergii Shutenko.

In the meantime, tourism stakeholders are on edge fearing Russian tourists will opt for other destinations. In addition to the loss of Russian vacationers, Greece may also see declines of up to 10,000 in the number of Ukrainian travelers. A total of 1.3 million travelers from Russia visited Greece in 2013 breaking all records. This gradually dropped to 26,000 in 2020, but recorded a promising rise 365.3 percent rise in 2021 to 119.5 thousand travelers, expected to continue – before the Russian invasion – into 2022.

Kikilias reiterated that the  ministry would be closely monitoring the Russia-Ukraine crisis in order to address possible repercussions on tourism in terms of inbound travel and rising energy costs.

Commenting on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that “in general, air transport is resilient against shocks and this conflict is unlikely to impact the long-term growth of air transport”.

IATA noted however that it is too early to estimate what the short-term effects will be for aviation, adding that “it is clear there are downside risks, in particular in markets with exposure to the conflict”.

Factors that should be taken into consideration include the geographic extent, severity, and time-period for sanctions and/or airspace closures.

These impacts would be felt most severely in Russia, Ukraine and neighboring areas, the IATA report said.  Pre-pandemic Russia was the 11th largest market for air transport services in terms of passenger numbers, including its large domestic market. Ukraine ranked 48.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.
  1. Marie Reply

    Way to go by offering refugees 50k non existent jobs !!!

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