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Greece is Americans’ Plan A

American interest in vacationing in Greece this year has soared to unexpectedly high levels, forcing major airlines to amend their schedules to accommodate demand.

Bloomberg reported on Monday that travel app Hopper has recorded a 75% increase in round-trip searches, and luxury agency Virtuoso tracked a 225% jump in new hotel reservations across Greece. Bookings actually started in March – before Greece first had even announced it would welcome American visitors on April 19. That was when Emirates announced it would link Newark with Athens, followed by cruise operators who said they will be sailing the Greek seas as of June.

That was just the beginning, apparently: Bloomberg cited Paul Tumpowsky of the tech-driven agency Skylark saying: “Greece is everyone’s Plan A. There’s no doubt that by being open first, they’re going to capture the business on the front end of summer, because flights are unreliable everywhere else. Every major carrier is flying into Athens now – and you can bet that more airlines are going to be rerouting their wide-body jets there as soon as they can.”

Such is the demand for Greece from the US this summer that in August there will be at least seven flights per day between the two countries, operated by Emirates, Delta, United and American Airlines.

Tickets to Greece have also dropped in price: Bloomberg cited Hopper reporting an average of 25% savings on round-trip fares from the US, compared with 2019 prices. Early bookings will secure round-trip tickets around $800 the company told Bloomberg, rather than the typical $1,080 that was common before the pandemic.

There’s also optimism in the US regarding Greece’s vaccination progress. The priority granted to adults on islands means they will have all been inoculated by the end of June.

Unless the pandemic springs another surprise, US visitors are set to bolster Greek tourism, especially in Athens. Americans are among the visitors with the highest spending per capita, which in 2019 amounted to 1,008 euros, which was 78.8% above the mean rate of €564 among visitors from all over the world.