Never before has Greece had half a million tourists from the United States in one year, or more than 60 direct weekly flights between the US and Athens, Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias told Skai Radio, adding that the government expects significant revenues from the sector in 2022.
“Tourism is the great economic engine of the country – and rightly so,” said the minister, referring extensively to the optimistic messages for this year’s tourism season, both in terms of reservations and the level of first-time arrivals in the country, citing the example of increased tourist flows from the US.
“We have never had 500,000 travelers directly from the US to Athens [in one year],” Kikilias said, reminding that the first flights arrived on March 7 from Atlanta, Chicago and Boston, “and there is now a direct service on all three major American [air] companies,” he said in comments on Monday.
Nine flights a day will be conducted from the US alone, a number that corresponds to 63 flights a week, while – as Kikilias said – there seems to be the possibility of direct flights to other major US airports, and from the US to Thessaloniki too.
Kikilias made a special reference to the qualitative data of this year’s tourism arrivals, as well as the strategy for the extension of the tourism season in Greece; this is being implemented after a long effort, not only by the ministry but also by the Greek National Tourism Organization, Marketing Greece, tourism officials across the country and the private sector.
“Strategically, since last winter, we have targeted the prolongation of the tourism season and highlighted more destinations,” said the tourism minister, stressing that the travelers who arrive in Greece, particularly from the US, are of high incomes and match the profile for the tourism product upgrade Greece is targeting.
“We have brought forward the start of the tourism season and delayed its end; we are creating a particular concept and strengthening all regions so that their income is increased and the domestic economy will be bolstered, along with our products and our primary output,” explained Kikilias, noting that road tourism has already grown a 180% annually and cruise tourism 130%.