Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Greece: International arrivals bloom

Arrivals from abroad at the country’s 14 largest regional airports exceeded all expectations in July, boosting hopes that this will be a record-setting tourist season, better even than 2019, the last year before the Covid-19 pandemic’s heavy impact on both transport and tourism.

The numbers make up for the lag in those at Athens International Airport, which industry managers believe will also get higher from September onward, as well as the drop in domestic passengers’ travel, whose prospects are murkier.

International arrivals at the 14 largest regional airports, all managed by Fraport Greece, reached 5.127 million in July, compared to 4.49 million in July 2019, or a rise of 14.1%. But domestic travel volume was 7.4% below 2019 levels, dragging down the overall increase to 11.1%.

As the 14 airports include the most popular tourist destinations, these number are a clear indication that tourism has fully recovered from the effects of the pandemic, and then some. They have also made up for a relative lag earlier in the year; for the first seven months of 2022, international arrivals at the regional airports totaled 12.85 million, or 4.2% more than in 2019 (12.33 million). Again, because of lagging domestic travel, the total number of arrivals during January-July 2022 was 0.2% lower than in 2019 (16.216 million and 16.252 million, respectively).

Asked about the prospects for international arrivals, George Vilos, Fraport Greece’s general manager for development, told Kathimerini that he fully expects August to be as “dynamic” as July. “But we must remain vigilant, because it could be that the difficulties are lying ahead,” he cautions.

Unless something unexpected happens, such as further negative international developments, arrivals could exceed 2019 levels by 5% and revenue by 10%, because it is not just that more tourists are arriving, they are also spending more per person. Industry professionals and government officials estimate that revenue from international tourists could be very close to €20 billion, up from €18.2 billion in 2019.

At Athens International Airport, July arrivals came to 2.83 million, or 5.1% fewer than in July 2019. Domestic arrivals were 0.3% lower, but international arrivals were down 7.2%.