Greece tourism rebounds but still suffers from Covid

By: AFP      Published: 11:50 PM, 22 Oct, 2021
Greece tourism
Greece tourism rebounds but still suffers from Covid

The number of foreign tourists arriving in Greece has rebounded strongly this year, central bank data released Friday showed, but the key tourism sector still remains far below pre-pandemic levels.

Foreign tourists seeking sun and sand are the driver of Greece's tourism industry, which accounts for a fifth of the overall economy, but pandemic travel restrictions kept most away in 2020 and battered the sector.

Greek central bank data showed that the number of tourist arrivals has jumped 80 percent this year to over 8.6 million.

Meanwhile, spending by tourists during the first eight months of the year has shot up by over 135 percent to nearly 6.6 billion euros ($7.7 billion), the Bank of Greece said in a statement.

But those figures are still far off the level in 2019, before the pandemic, when some 21.8 million tourists spent 13.2 billion euros.

Ahead of the peak summer tourism season, Greece ran a major campaign to voluntarily vaccinate most residents if its Aegean islands, its most popular travel destinations, to help lure back foreign tourists.

Most of the arrivals came from Germany, Britain, France and the United States.

Greece's economy contracted by 9.0 percent in 2020, due in no small part to the drop in tourists.

The government expects the economy to rebound 6.1 percent this year and grow by 4.5 percent in 2022.