TOURISM

Tourism faring better than expected so far

tourism-faring-better-than-expected-so-far

Tourism traffic to date in Greece remains far above last year’s levels and is projected to continue so despite the recent resurgence of the coronavirus.

Speaking to international media, the prime minister’s chief financial advisor, Alex Patelis, recently noted that arrivals have skyrocketed by 130% from last year, though lag the record year of 2019 by 40%. It is reminded that the original target had been for a 100% increase from 2020 to about half of the visitors recorded in 2019.

Patelis told Bloomberg Television that the season remains overshadowed by uncertainty, as the Delta strain keeps expanding in Europe, triggering new sets of rules and restrictions such as the flagging of countries according to risk.

According to Tourism Ministry data, June 2021 posted an increase of 40%-50% compared to July 2020, which was the first month of a full reopening of tourism after the spring lockdown. This year, German visitors remain on top, with the French in second place and the Polish at a close third. Visitors from Poland have been the surprise for a second consecutive year for Greece.

What Greece crucially needs is to avoid a repetition of 2020, when the season practically ended as early as the start of September due to the second wave of the pandemic.

The case of Mykonos, where the surge of coronavirus cases brought local restrictions including a nighttime curfew, has served as a warning for many other destinations around the country and highlighted the importance of having an adequate number of quarantine facilities to accommodate those requiring isolation. Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis spoke in Parliament about this matter last week, noting that the quarantine hotels will increase as long as cases increase.

In this context, the ministry has once again invited the expression of interest by hoteliers for the leasing of accommodation so as to cover the extraordinary public health needs associated with tackling the pandemic.

The invitation is for 370 rooms on several Greek islands, with the focus on Paros and Crete. The ministry will lease up to 30 rooms each in Iraklio, Hania and Rethymno on Crete, plus another 130 on Paros. It has also invited interest for up to 30 rooms each on Mykonos and Naxos, up to 40 rooms on Corfu and up to 25 rooms each on Skopelos and Alonissos.