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Tourist Arrivals at South Aegean Islands Jump 15% Over pre-COVID Levels

Photo source: Region of South Aegean

Mykonos. Photo source: Region of South Aegean

Greece’s South Aegean Region, which includes popular islands like Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos, and Kos, has broken all records this year surpassing 2019 traveler arrivals by 15 percent, the South Aegean Tourism Initiative (SATI) said this week.

According to data released on Wednesday, so far, 6 million travelers visited the region’s islands on 34,756 flights demonstrating a “strong vote of confidence in the destination”.

The Cyclades and Dodecanese islands led the way with the largest increase in international arrivals recorded on Santorini which welcomed 811,000 travelers compared to 519,000 in 2019 on board 5,700 direct flights.

Travel flows to Mykonos were up by 21 percent compared to pre-Covid 2019 to 575,000 arrivals from 475,000.

Photo source: @Municipality of Rhodes

Rhodes welcomed the most tourists so far this year with 2,550,000 arrivals up by 9 percent over 2019 and 2,340,000 arrivals while 1,240,000 visitors went through the airport of Kos marking a 6 percent rise over pre-pandemic levels.

Lastly, the fifth international airport of the South Aegean on Karpathos welcomed 88,000 passengers in 2022, achieving a 100 percent increase compared to 2021, when 43,000 passengers visited the island.


Top source markets for South Aegean Region destinations are the UK, Germany and Italy, as well as the Netherlands, Poland, France and Israel.

According to SATI, demand for the South Aegean Region islands is going strong with pre-bookings showing signs of robust performance in 2023 despite inflation, the cost-of-living crisis and uncertainty of the Russia-Ukraine war.

In the January-September 2022 period, five of the region’s main airports handled 4.8 million visitors arriving on 31,000 international flights.

Founded in 2020, the South Aegean Tourism Initiative is made up of local tourism, trade and hospitality professionals and their relevant associations and chambers.

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  1. Christina Reply

    These numbers are creating totally unsustainable Tourism. All the talk about sustainable tourism is total ********. Yes maybe On Tilos Astypalia and Amorgos !!!! But the test. In Kos we have 70 taxis only !!!!

  2. Carl+Simpson Reply

    Yet again no mention of Crete.

    • Christina Reply

      Because the article is about the South Aegean. Crete stands alone

  3. Ralph Erhart Reply

    It would be interesting to have these figures broken down month by month.
    I am a regular traveller to Greece (spring/fall) and this growth in arrivals is potentially bad news, as this will result in reduced service levels, increased prices and congested airports, roads, restaurants and beaches.. Let’s not forget to focus on quality rather than quantity.

    • Philip Reply

      Greece needs all the tourism it can get, and there is a very fine balance between quantity and quality. Wish it were otherwise but tourism really is Greece’s only real growth industry. 20% GNP. At one time pre-COVID they were being ‘invaded’ by 25-30 million tourists annually. That was a very tricky situation as even Greece has a capacity limit and the Greeks were beginning to complain of tourist suffocation. But unless and until they can get progress and development elsewhere economically, tourism is what they’ve got, and they’re still importing 1.5 x what they’re exporting.

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