February Tourist Flows in Athens Best Ever, Says Greek Minister
Tourist flows in Athens surpassed pre-pandemic levels in February, showing a five percent increase compared to the same month in 2019, Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said on Friday.
According to the minister, the tourist flows in Athens this February are “more than they have ever been” for the same month any other year.
Speaking to local media, Kikilias said that 2023 has started with the most promising prospects for the tourism sector.
“During the first 19 days of February, passenger traffic at Athens Airport recorded an increase of 2.8 percent compared to January and 5 percent compared to 2019,” he said, adding that forecasts for the coming season are optimistic as a result of the Tourism Ministry’s strategy to extend the season, open to new markets and promote new destinations.
“Last month we also had a 5 percent increase in passenger traffic compared to 2019 and it was the best January ever, while early bookings recorded (in January) for the whole year were up by 20 percent compared to 2019,” Kikilias said.
Referring to the successful tourism year of 2022, the minister underlined that travel revenues approached 2019 levels despite the loss of four major markets: Russia and Ukraine due to the war; and China and Australia due to the restrictive measures for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tourism supported the Greek capital
Moreover, Kikilias underlined the support that Athens saw in 2022 from tourism’s contribution.
“Thanks to the direct flights from the United States to Athens Airport, which were extended until January 2023 and will restart on March 11,” he said, adding that tourism last year also supported local communities throughout the country.
“Tourism brought huge revenues to Athens, Attica and throughout Greece… to restaurants; to the agricultural sector and primary production; to retail stores; and to the world of real estate and construction,” Kikilias said, reminding that eight out of ten investments in Greece are now tourism-related.
Moreover, the minister said tourism in 2022 significantly benefited destinations such as Kastellorizo, Symi, Chalki, Alonissos and Skopelos.
The Ionian Islands also saw an “excellent performance” last year with an over 25 percent increase in arrivals compared to 2019, as did Preveza, Messolonghi and Ioannina (Epirus).
With regard to Preveza, Kikilias informed that Aktion airport saw a 32 pecent increase in flights compared to 2019.
“These results came despite the pandemic at the beginning of the year, the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and inflation,” the minister said.
Clean Monday holiday
Referring to the upcoming three-day Clean Monday holiday (February 25-27), Kikilias said that occupancy rates at Greece’s popular carnival destinations (Patra, Xanthi, Nafpaktos, etc.) are at 100 percent.
“This also results to high occupancy rates for hotels in other neighboring destinations that are farther away from where carnival events are taking place,” Kikilias said.