After a period of downward revisions of estimates concerning the course of Greek tourism this year, owing to the deterioration of the coronavirus pandemic in Greece and its main markets, the first indications that the worst-case scenario can be averted are here.
From mid-March, the Greek government and tourism associations had been saying that the original target for this year’s revenues, amounting to about 40%-50% of the record year 2019, might not be feasible. Some were even contemplating a level closer to 35%.
However, over the last couple of weeks the picture has changed yet again, with a number of experts reverting to the estimate that as of late May, tourism activity is expected to post a considerable rebound, taking revenues significantly above 40% of the 2019 takings. In any case – barring any dramatic resurgence of the pandemic – the season will be much better than 2020, perhaps not as good as originally thought over the winter, but still good enough.
There are two main reasons for this recent renewed optimism in the market: The acceleration and efficiency of the vaccination programs in both Greece and abroad, with the acceptance of vaccinated or successfully tested arrivals without delays, and the apparent return of US visitors to Europe, in a dynamic fashion too: Market experts say they cannot remember the last time nine direct services were operating between the United States and Greece, as will happen late in the summer.
According to Athens International Airport, incoming traffic in the first quarter of the year amounted to just 15.4% of that seen in 2019. In the second half it is projected to grow to 25% of the 2019 figures in Athens and most regional airports, while it will rise to 55% of the third-quarter figure of 2019 in July-September this year, sources have told Kathimerini. The year’s last quarter is set to reach 60% of the record year’s figures. In the country’s main regional airports, incoming traffic from abroad is projected to bounce back to 65% of the 2019 levels over the third quarter of this year.
According to Airports Council International, air traffic in Europe this year is projected to come to 44% of that in 2019.