NEWS

Tourist season is salvageable, officials hope

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As July gives way to August, government officials appear guardedly optimistic about the tourist season.

While the coronavirus pandemic definitely affected arrivals in May and June, July often reminded officials of pre-pandemic days, with a marked increase in arrivals, both by air and overland. Data on bookings for August and September are keeping hopes alive even though the pandemic’s fourth wave, notable for the rapid proliferation of the virus’ Delta variant, is spreading across Europe.

Data so far show that Germans dominate arrivals, with 600,000 having visited Greece so far, a 60% increase from the same period (May-July) in 2020. Poles come second with 280,000 arrivals, the same number as the whole of 2020, followed by the French (275,000 arrivals) and the Romanians (185,000) at over 50% more than last year.

Regarding the United States and Britain, two very important markets for Greece, things are looking up as far as the latter is concerned. After a very difficult period during which the UK government had effectively discouraged travel to Greece and other European countries, bookings for August and September look good. As for Americans, a prized category due to their high level of spending, there have so far been 125,000 arrivals, while last year this market was completely off-limits.

Arrivals in some regional airports are approaching 2019 levels: on the island of Mykonos, for example, arrivals from July 18-24 were just 9% lower than in the pre-pandemic 2019; while in several others arrivals reached 75% of 2019. Still, officials worry that the increase in Covid-19 cases on several islands could lead to new restrictions that will reverse this trend.