OPINION

Hopeful signs for Greek tourism from the US

hopeful-signs-for-greek-tourism-from-the-us

In this critical phase for this summer’s Greek tourism and, by extension, the economy’s ability to rebound, a wind of optimism is blowing from America. The messages coming from the other side of the Atlantic point to increased traffic and revenues.

Booking data show that Greece right now – an important indicator for the course of the rest of the season – is among the top, if not the top European destination.

The same positive news comes for diaspora travel agents working with the Greek market, as well as from friends and acquaintances living in the US. The competition is, of course, fierce, because apart from places like Spain, Americans also love visiting historic cities like Paris, London and Rome.

As far as cost is concerned, on the one hand, a strong euro is not helping as it raises the cost of vacations for Americans. On the other hand, flights to Athens this year are much cheaper than they were in previous years. Compared with 2019 – the last year of normal travel – they are almost 20% down.

Tourist professionals in the American market believe that Greece made a smart move by opening its borders to vaccinated tourists.

The launch of direct flights between the US and Greece by several carriers has also been instrumental. Never before have there been so many connections – from Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington – with Athens. Even though many are only seasonal, it is a crucial development.

This optimistic outlook, however, is shadowed by concerns, even among the diaspora, about the course of vaccinations in Greece. For people planning to travel from America – where 40% of the population is fully vaccinated and the campaign is running along smoothly – Greece still has a long way to go with just 17% full coverage.

In this regard, and beyond efforts to reach out to different countries to facilitate travel from them to Greece, Athens needs to step up the vaccination drive and, of course, try to bring deniers and skeptics into the fold.