The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) highlighted on Thursday the major growth Greek tourism recorded in 2019 and praised the Greek government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying tourism will see the country overcome the economic crisis from the pandemic.
In its annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) the WTTC revealed Greece continued to be one of the strongest European countries in terms of travel and tourism (T&T) growth last year, and that its T&T sector will be key to the country’s economic recovery, once the Covid-19 pandemic has been combatted.
According to the 2020 EIR, tourism was precious for the Greek economy in 2019, as T&T supported almost 850,000 jobs, or more than one in five (21.7 percent) of the country’s total workforce. It also generated 39.1 billion euros to the Greek gross domestic product, or 20.8 percent to the Greek economy, growing by an incredible 12.1 percent from the previous year, outpacing the growth of the overall economy for the third consecutive year. The comprehensive report shows this growth significantly outpaced the overall GDP growth in 2019 of 2.2 percent in the same year.
Analysis in the EIR report also showed international visitor spending totaled a staggering 21.3 billion euros, representing almost one third (30.1 percent) of the country’s total exports.
The report also demonstrated the nation’s need for a swift recovery due to its strong reliance on leisure spending, accounting for 94 percent of all spend, compared to 6 percent for business spend. Furthermore, international spending accounted for 68 percent compared to 32 percent domestic.
WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara said: “WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report shows how fundamental the T&T sector was last year to the Greek economy, supporting almost 850,000 jobs, equating to more than one in five of all those in employment. Strong growth in the country followed the government’s successful policy which focused on extending the season beyond summer, which led to a rise in visitor numbers outside of the traditional summer season.
“The government must also be applauded for its incredibly swift response to Covid-19, which saw restrictions in place even before the virus reached the country. Since then, the government has worked closely with the public and private sector, ensuring protocols and standards are in place that will not only see the country through to a fast recovery, it could be one of the first countries in Europe to welcome tourists back to its shores.
“Our analysis highlights how vital the T&T sector will be in driving the recovery of the Greek economy, generating new jobs and driving visitors back to the country, having a positive economic domino effect on suppliers large and small throughout this fast-growing industry. Until then, it is crucial that all governments help to protect this sector – the backbone of the global economy – which is currently in a fight for survival, with more than 100 million jobs being lost in 2020.”
WTTC’s EIR revealed that, between 2016 and 2018, Germany accounted for 14 percent of all visitors to Greece, with the UK reaching 11 percent. Visitors from Bulgaria accounted for 10 percent of all travelers, with Italy and North Macedonia level pegging at 5 percent.