Greece Ready to Welcome 1 Million Tourists a Week
Greece is set to welcome 1 million travelers a week, said Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias in a recent interview to the ANA-MPA, underlining the importance of the industry as a key driver of the Greek economy particularly in view of the coming winter.
“This year, the tourism sector has demonstrated its key role; not only strengthening the national economy, but also offering significant support in very difficult circumstances,” said Kikilias.
He attributed this year’s “unprecedented performance” to hard work by the ministry and top-notch services by Greek travel and tourism stakeholders.
“Greece boasts excellent entrepreneurs who, with effort, ingenuity and passion are offering travelers high-level services, which upgrade the Greek tourism product,” he said.
According to Kikilias, Greece will be expecting approximately 1 million passengers a week on the back of July, which recorded more than 900,000 arrivals every week.
Kikilias said the South Aegean Region had already exceeded its pre-pandemic 2019 levels up by 20 percent in July over 2019, 17,500 international flights and more than 3 million visitors.
“With teamwork, targeted planning and timely interventions in order to deal with this year’s challenges, some destinations managed to come near or even exceed 2019 levels” despite the Russia-Ukraine war, the energy crisis and inflationary pressures, said Kikilias
The minister confirmed the “dynamic return” of the UK, German and Scandinavian markets and of the US market, arrivals from which increased in June by 50 percent over 2019 thanks in large part to the availability of more direct flights.
Additionally, the Austrian market was up by 32 percent and Israel by 24 percent. “Greece this year is the number 1 destination for travelers from France, Israel, very high in the preferences of tourists from the Balkans, and in the Top 3 positions in Germany and Scandinavia,” he said.
Among the lesser-known destinations being promoted this year are Kastoria, Limnos and Nafpaktos, said Kikilias, adding that Crete, Rhodes and Kos were being promoted as ideal destinations for senior visitors in the winter.
Kikilias concluded that one of the ministry’s biggest bets was to extend the tourist season beyond the traditional summer months. “We do not have indications but evidence that the tourist season has already extended and, yes, will extend further,” he said.
“This year, the season started earlier – from the beginning of March, with 63 direct flights per week from the US … cruise ship arrivals started early and have now reached 10 month operations and we are making efforts to reach 12 months. And visitor number to the Acropolis have reached 2019 levels.”