The World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) noted on Friday that the dramatic collapse of the Greek tourism sector has wiped out 23 billion euros from the country’s economy and cost tens of thousands of jobs.
The WTTC’s EIR shows that the sector’s contribution to gross domestic product dropped a staggering 61.1% in 2020, after three successful years.
The year of damaging travel restrictions also resulted in the loss of more than 65,000 tourism jobs across the country: The number of those employed in the Greek tourism sector fell from 825,000 in 2019, to 759,000 in 2020 – a drop of 7.9%.
The WTTC believes the true picture could be significantly worse, if not for the government’s short-term working scheme which offered a lifeline to thousands of businesses and workers. However, this is hiding the real extent of the losses and the devastating social impact they could bring.
These job losses were felt across the entire tourism ecosystem in the country, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) particularly affected. Furthermore, the impact on women, young people and minorities was significant.
Gloria Guevara, president & CEO of the WTTC, said: “The loss of more than 65,000 tourism jobs in Greece has had a terrible socioeconomic impact, leaving huge numbers of people worried about their future. However, the situation could have been far worse if it were not for the government’s job support scheme which could save thousands of jobs under threat and has helped to halt the total collapse of the tourism sector.
“We must also praise the Greek government for its tremendous efforts and strategic steps taken to restart international travel. It has been an example throughout the pandemic, striking the balance between the health emergency and the economy, by allowing international travel through very clear testing and hygiene protocols.
“Additionally, the clear roadmap to restart international travel from 14 May could reopen the door to a summer of travel for holidaymakers looking to get away to Greece, and will provide a significant boost to the country’s economy.
“We believe that if the vaccine rollout picks up pace and restrictions for travel are relaxed on May 14 as planned, and with a comprehensive testing regime on departure in place, we predict that most of the jobs lost could return this year,” she stated.