Tourist arrivals up until mid-August look like they will achieve the goal of recovering 40% of pre-pandemic volume, although there is still anxiety that the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus may cause a downturn in September and October.
International arrivals at the main tourist destinations, such as the Cyclades, Dodecanese and Ionian islands, as well as Crete, are at about 44% of the 2019 levels, before the pandemic outbreak, according to data compiled by Kathimerini from public and private sources. They are also 50% higher than 2020, the year of the first, strictest lockdown, from March until June, although we should note that January and February 2020 were especially good months for the industry.
Trends in the first half of August were surprisingly good, with overall arrivals at 81% of 2019 and some destinations doing even better: On Santorini, for example, tourist traffic was 4% higher than in 2019. But no one can vouch that this trend will continue. Already, some operators are reporting cancellations for September, although airlines still believe there will be many last-minute bookings. Charter airlines, in particular, have declared their flight schedules to regional airports for September and October, but they have not finalized them.
In any case, the spread of the pandemic and Greece’s image abroad will be key. The latter has taken a hit recently because of the current pandemic surge and, to an extent, the disastrous fires that broke out earlier in August. But some of Greece’s competitors, such as Spain, face even greater difficulties.
According to July data, arrivals from Germany top the list of visitors, followed by Poland, Italy, France and the UK. The latter, normally Greece’s second largest market, lifted its restrictions on returning travelers quite late.
Following the top five are travelers from the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Israel, Switzerland, Sweden, Romania, Hungary, Cyprus, Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, Spain and Serbia.
July was the first month to see a truly strong recovery. According to the Civil Aviation Authority, international arrivals were 146.8% higher than in July 2020.