Greece has achieved its national targets for tourism this year, with arrivals and revenues reaching 50% of those in record year 2019, sector insiders and government sources agree.
Civil Aviation Authority data on airport passenger traffic in January-August showed flights numbered 235,570, or a 36.1% drop from the same period in 2019, while total passenger traffic amounted to 20,727,553 people, down 53.8% from two years ago.
In August, passengers came to almost 80% of those two years earlier, reaching 3,042,098, which is also 82.6% more than in August 2020.
The expansion of the observed recovery will depend on the performance of non-summer destinations, such as Athens, which as of end-October typically takes over as the number one destination in Greece.
For now it is estimated that travel receipts will reach 9 billion euros this year, which is twice as that of 2020 and half of the record level of 2019. Nevertheless, the picture was not uniform across all destinations in the country, nor can the phenomena of overtourism observed in several destinations this year be tolerated, as they distort the location’s character and environment.
Meanwhile, Hellenic Statistical Authority data on Friday showed a major annual increase in hospitality and food service turnover in July: The accommodation sector collected 933.9 million euros in July, up 230.3% on July 2020, when turnover had amounted to €282.7 million. In June 2021 takings reached €361.1 million. Food service turnover came to €181.9 million in July, posting a 42.8% rise from a year earlier, when it had reached €127.4 million.
As the current tourism season gradually heads toward its conclusion, policies are being drafted so as to increase the added value of arrivals. The government and the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) insist that the new tourism paradigm will have to focus on higher per capita expenditure and compliance with sustainability principles, along with an improvement in the infrastructure and services offered to visitors. That would require a drastic rationing of daily visitors at top destinations.
This article was previously published at ekathimerini.com.