Greece’s tourism looking up after months of coronavirus restrictions
Published: Oct 20, 2021 05:33 PM
Tourists take photos in front of the Propilion on the Acropolis hill on June 8 in Athens, Greece. Photo: VCG

Tourists take photos in front of the Propilion on the Acropolis hill on June 8 in Athens, Greece. Photo: VCG

Summer is over, but the cafes and restaurants flanking the cobblestone streets of the tiny port of Dapia on Greece's Spetses island, are still teeming with patrons.

The Spetses Town is off limits to private cars, but visitors can take horse-drawn carriage rides along the seafront promenade, marveling at the glamorous Poseidonion Grand Hotel and the sprawling mansions lining the seafront.

Local officials and hoteliers agree that tourism growth this year ­exceeded expectations both in ­Spetses, an affluent island of some 4,000 inhabitants located in the eastern part of the Peloponnese, and nationwide.

Tourism revenues were higher than previously forecast, giving a strong boost to Greece's 2021 gross domestic product. Revenues for this year are expected to clock in at nearly 12 billion euros ($13.9 billion), Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias told the Greek national broadcaster ERT recently.

In record-breaking 2019, Greece registered 32 million tourist arrivals and 18 billion euros in tourism receipts.

Based on these results, this autumn the Greek government revised its GDP growth target for 2021 to 6.1 percent from 3.6 percent.

Officials and analysts are confident that the tourism sector, a key pillar of Greece's economy that has withstood the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, will post even more impressive results in the near future, further supporting the country's economic recovery.

The 2022 tourism season may reach 2019 levels, Yiannis Retsos, president of the Greek Tourism Confederation, told a forum in Athens on Tuesday.

Mayor of Spetses Panagiotis Lirakis is likewise optimistic.

"This year, tourism in Spetses performed better than ever," he told Xinhua during a recent tour of the Spetses Museum.

Housed in the Mansion of Chatzigiannis Mexis, a seafarer who was a member of the island's ruling class in the early 19th century, the museum exhibits archaeological findings dating back 4,000 years and illustrates Spetses' maritime tradition and the leading role it played during the Greek War of Independence against Ottoman rule in 1821.

"We believe that year-round tourism is feasible thanks to the mild climate. We started with a four-month tourism season and have extended it to eight months already," Antonis Vordonis, Managing Director of Poseidonion Grand Hotel and president of the municipality's tourism committee, told Xinhua.

While last year was spent in pandemic mode, this year has been a very good one, Vordonis stressed. The hotel occupancy rate in Spetses stood at 70 percent in June, exceeded 85 percent in July and reached 90 percent in August.

Similar figures were recorded across the country as well. In late September, the occupancy rate in hotels and similar accommodations across the country stood at 63 percent, Kikilias said on Open TV, a free-to-air television station.