Arrivals from the US increased by 50 percent in June compared to record year 2019, reflecting a positive upward trend, said Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias commenting on Athens International Airport (AIA) data released earlier this week.
According to AIA data, incoming passenger figures in June came close to 2019 levels at 2.43 million in total, but still down by 6.8 percent over the same month in pre-pandemic 2019.
Kikilias said the figures were “impressive, adding that other international markets were also showing a strong dynamic. Indicatively, the minister referred to arrivals from Austria which were up by 32 percent, from Israel up by 24 percent, from Canada by +12 percent, from France by +8 percent and from the UK by +1 percent.
Citing the latest data, Kikilias went on to add that more high-income visitors were choosing to holiday in Greece, generating much needed revenue, which he said is “very important”.
“The Greek tourism product is posting a strong recovery despite it being a year of challenges; closed markets of China, Ukraine and Russia, with a war in the heart of Europe, with a pandemic, and with all the problems created by inflation and the energy crisis,” he said.
Kikilias referred to ministry efforts to extend the tourism season which were paying off. Not only did the season start earlier this year, he said, but tourists are expected to keep coming into December. At the same time, Athens is making a comeback.
“Many of the travelers visiting Greece are now choosing to stay in Athens. While in the previous years the capital was an intermediate destination for anyone who wanted to go to the Greek islands, this has changed. Athens has acquired a new dynamic and a series of important investments have contributed to this – along the Athenian Riviera and elsewhere in Attica,” he said.
Referring to staff shortages in tourism, Kikilias said he had proposed that all seasonal jobs be subsidized instead of resorting to unemployment benefits.
“For example: a hotelier or a shopkeeper employs someone registered as unemployed for six, seven or eight months; it is preferable for the remaining months of the year to subsidize this job position rather than place the employee on unemployment benefits,” he said.