Visitors from non-European Union countries to Greece this year spent 32% more on average on their tax-free purchases than in 2019 – the record year for Greek tourism – according to data from Global Blue, a tax rebate service company. In some areas, such as Santorini, average spending on tax-free purchases per tourist more than doubled compared to 2019, rising by 116%.
The reason for that is that although there were fewer visitors to Greece this year than in 2019, they were wealthier compared to the past, and this is a trend that Global Blue expects to continue in 2022.
Crucially, the revenues of commercial companies and the Greek economy in general may increase further from tourism expenditure if the digitization of the process for the validation of receipts for tax rebates proceeds instead of having it done at customs offices, Manthos Dimopoulos, Global Blue Hellas’ managing director, tells Kathimerini.
He notes that Greece is the country with the highest recovery of revenues from tax-free purchases in the entire European Union this year. The peak season for tourism (June-September 2021) showed that tax-free shopping amounted to 77% of the purchases made in the same period in 2019. “The missing 23% is the purchases Chinese tourists used to make before the pandemic, but they did not visit our country this year,” explains Dimopoulos.
“Greece’s performance this year has bettered that of all major players, such as France, Spain and Italy. The average rate of tax-free purchase revenues in the EU stood at just 38% this year.”
The countries of origin of the tourists offering the greatest revenues this year have been the US, Russia, Israel and the United Kingdom: Almost a third of purchases in value terms (31%) was by American tourists, 12% by Russians and 8% by Israelis.
“What we witnessed this summer was that travelers were wealthier and got to spend more, driving the average spending per person higher,” says the head of Global Blue in Greece.