Some 5.3 million international air arrivals were recorded at Greece’s main airports during the January-May 2023 period, revealed data released recently by INSETE, the research division of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE).
According to recent data from the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA) and Athens International Airport (AIA), processed by INSETE, the increase in air arrivals compared to the corresponding five months of 2022 is at 29.3 percent. Compared to 2019, the rise is at 9.6 percent.
In absolute numbers, Greece welcomed 1.2 million more international arrivals by air during the first five months of the year.
However, the data also reveals a mixed picture with regard to passenger traffic at the country’s airports with key Greek tourism destinations such as Mykonos, Santorini and Kalamata recording a drop in the first five five months, as well as in May.
Greek airports with more arrivals compared to 2022
More specifically, in the January-May period, Athens International Airport saw 817,000 more international air arrivals compared to the same period in 2022, showing a 57.5 percent increase to 2.2 million. The Greek capital’s airport was followed by Thessaloniki’s airport, where a total of 764,000 international air arrivals were recorded, showing an increase of 33.2 percent (190,000 more arrivals).
With regard to Crete, Heraklion airport saw an increase of 49,000 international air arrivals (8.5 percent rise), reaching 624,000. At Chania airport, arrivals grew by 11 percent to 247,000, showing an increase of 25,000.
At the airport of Rhodes, 484,000 international air arrivals were recorded, showing an increase of 71,000 (17.2 percent rise) and the airport of Kos welcomed a 7.8 percent increase to 191,000 (up by 14,000).
International air arrivals amounted to 259,000 at Corfu’s airport, showing an increase of 22,000 (9.1 percent rise) and Zakynthos’ airport welcomed a 13.3 percent rise (14,000 more arrivals) to 119,000.
Drop in arrivals at Mykonos, Santorini, Kalamata
On the other hand, during the first five months of the year, Mykonos airport recorded 49,000 international air arrivals, showing a decrease of 11,000 (a 17.6 percent drop). Arrivals at Santorini’s airport amounted to 114,000, which is a 4.9 percent drop compared to 2022 (6,000 less); and Kalamata airport saw its arrivals drop by 3,000 (12.5 decrease) and welcomed 22,000.
In May alone the drop at the specific airports was 14.2 percent, 4.8 percent and 8.1 percent respectively.
The airports of Mykonos, Santorini and Kalamata are the only main ones in Greece that showed a decrease in passenger traffic, causing concern for local tourism professionals.
According to reports, in the case of Mykonos, the drop in arrivals is mainly attributed to the very high prices as well as an imbalance between cost and services that have created a negative reputation for the island. Regarding Santorini and Kalamata, some believe that the drop in international airport arrivals is due to the fact that many tourists first stopped in Athens to spend a few days and then continued on to Santorini with a domestic flight. In the case of Kalamata it is assumed that tourists preferred to go by road to the destination after first stopping in Athens.
Road arrivals are recovering
Moreover, the data showed that 2.3 million international road arrivals were recorded in Greece during January-May, compared to 1.5 million in 2022, showing an increase of 52.9 percent (rise of 779,000 road arrivals).
According to the data, an increase in road arrivals compared to 2022 was recorded by all neighboring countries, however compared to 2019 the numbers appear reduced by 17 percent this year.
Total arrivals in January-May: 7.6m
In total, international air and road arrivals to Greece totaled 7.6 million for the first five months of 2023, up from 2022 and marginally up from 2019 (7.5 million).
Commenting on the data rounded up by INSETE, the former president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, said that during the course of this year’s tourism year, both positive and negative comments will be heard about the performance of the destinations.
According to Retsos such a development should be expected.
“Because 2023 is the first normal year since pre-pandemic 2019 and in a normal year there is high competition from leading international destinations,” he said in a post on social media, adding that tour operators are adjusting their packages to meet demand and there are other destinations such as Turkey and Egypt, which are cheaper but have high quality services.
“In other words, holidaymakers have other options,” he said, adding that what Greece’s tourism professionals have to do is to provide a properly priced service that meets value for money.
“With the ups and downs, this year’s forecast for a new year of record revenue for our tourism remains realistic,” he said.
Revenue on the up
According to data from the Bank of Greece, so far Greece is seeing an increase in revenue compared to last year. Travel receipts in the January-April 2023 period showed a 38 percent increase compared to the corresponding period of 2022 and amounted to over 1.4 billion euros.
During the first four months of the year, receipts from Germany remained stable and amounted to 181 million, while revenue from France increased by 36.6 percent to 127 million euros. Travel receipts from the United Kingdom showed an increase of 18 percent, reaching 137 million euros and from the United States rose by 93.9 percent to 138 million euros.