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Foreign tourism to Greece up but below pre-Covid peak

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Tourism represents a quarter of Greece's annual economic output, but questions linger over the future of the sector./AFP
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Oct 25, 2022 - 03:44 AM

ATHENS, GREECE — The number of foreign tourists visiting Greece has sharply increased so far this year despite soaring inflation and the Ukraine war, according to official statistics published on Monday.

But the figures remained below the record pre-pandemic levels of 2019 that helped revive the country’s tourism-dependent economy after years of crisis.

From January to late August, 19.12 million foreign tourists flocked to the sun-drenched southern European nation to explore attractions such as the Athens Acropolis or the Aegean islands, the Bank of Greece said.

That represented a 121-percent increase on the same period in 2021, when Covid-19 travel and social restrictions weighed heavily on the tourism sector.

In August alone, traditionally the peak of the Mediterranean tourism season, more than 5.8 million foreign visitors came to Greece, a rise of 44 percent on 2021 figures.

However, tourist numbers in the first eight months of this year were down 12.4 percent on the same period in 2019.

Decades-high inflation is eating away at the budgets of many European households, while Russian tourists — frequent visitors to the beaches of Crete or Corfu — are down sharply due to the fallout from the Ukraine war and European sanctions.

Tourism represents a quarter of Greece’s annual economic output, but questions linger over the future of the sector.

Some islands are becoming saturated with tourists, whereas others have become so expensive that many Greeks can no longer afford to live there.

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