For the first time in the two years of Covid-19, island-bound traffic from the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio soared with the Cyclades, Crete and Rhodes winning over a large share of Easter and May Day travelers.
According to shipping ministry data, a total of 166,609 passengers and 26,695 vehicles traveled on ferries to the Cyclades, Dodecanese, Crete and Saronic islands between April 15 and 25, marking a 150 percent rise over the same period in 2021 (66,563 passengers and 8,624 cars), when however there were Covid restrictions in place.
The port of Rafina also saw island-bound traffic rise by 579 percent in the same period with 38,726 passengers and 10,088 vehicles traveling to a Cyclades destination compared to 5,701 passengers and 1,878 vehicles in 2021.
Activity also picked up by 340 percent at the port of Lavrio, where 12,259 passengers and 3,447 vehicles set off for the Greek islands compared to 2,786 passengers and 777 vehicles in 2021.
Despite the increase in activity, however, ferry companies underline that passenger traffic is still down by 20-25 percent compared to pre-pandemic 2019, when there were no restrictions in place and which can be used as a comparison.
Commenting on the demand for the Easter and May Day holiday, Vice President of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Panagiotis Tokouzis said the figures reflected the positive upward trend of the upcoming tourism season.
Speaking to Athina 984 radio, Tokouzis said he expected the losses incurred by the Russia-Ukraine conflict to be covered by other markets, forecasting tourism revenue to come to 14-15 billion euros this year, fast approaching 2019 record levels.
Tokouzis, who is also the president of the Greek Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Enterprises (SETKE), went on to add however that smaller tourism enterprises will still be faced with a challenging year ahead.
“It will be a year of survival … particular due to the fact that last year due to the pandemic they gave tour operators reduced prices by 30 percent compared to 2019, and on top of that operating costs are up by 40 percent,” he said.