The widely expected record revenue from tourism seems to be borne out so far, by the significant per trip spending by foreign arrivals, as well as the raw arrival numbers, which are outpacing those of the record-breaking year 2019, before the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.
This estimate is based on several facts. Spending per traveler per trip is about 9% higher. Also, in June, arrivals at Greece’s 14 largest regional airports were 4.6% higher than in June 2019. While data from July are still being processed, arrivals appear to have been almost 10% higher than during 2019.
August is also seeing unprecedented levels of arrivals and bookings for September are strong. But the rise in spending and bookings seems to be concentrated in 4- and 5-star hotels and resorts, as well as short-term rentals; lower-rated hotels and other facilities appear not to be sharing in the bonanza.
At the same time, travelers of more modest means, including many Greeks, are hunting for more competitive prices in less developed destinations.
This trend irks many Greeks, but could potentially extend the benefits of tourism to other regions beyond the usual glamorous destinations. At present, the southern Aegean Islands and Crete are taking the lion’s share of tourist revenue.
Spreading the wealth will require significant infrastructure upgrades across the country, to make destinations attractive to high-income clients.