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Travel and tourism in Greece - statistics & facts

Greece has long been a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, in part due to its ancient cultural history and many archaeological sites, such as those in the capital city of Athens. The country also contains the longest coastline in the Mediterranean region, and its many beach resorts on islands such as Santorini and Mykonos are an important driver of tourism. By far, most of the tourist spending in Greece – which has a significant impact on the country’s economy – comes from leisure visitors as opposed to those traveling for business. Prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in Greece was around 38 billion euros. This figure, however, fell by over half in 2020 due to the effects of the health crisis, then partially recovered in 2021, amounting to 27 billion euros. Tourism also boosts employment in the country, with nearly 782 thousand jobs in the Greek travel and tourism industry in 2021.

Inbound tourism in Greece

While the COVID-19 pandemic turned the tourism industry upside down, many countries still maintained some level of inbound tourism activity, though arrival numbers significantly decreased. In 2021, the number of international visitors in Greece totaled around 15 million, roughly doubling from the first year of the health crisis but remaining way below the peak of 34 million travelers reported in 2019. Overall, most inbound visitors come from other European countries, with Germany and the UK representing the leading inbound travel markets in Greece in recent years. In 2021, German tourists alone accounted for about three million arrivals. Looking at the most popular destination for international tourists in Greece, the Southern Aegean region, which includes the islands of Rhodes and Mykonos, attracted the highest number of travelers in 2021. Crete, Central Macedonia, and Attica – a region that encompasses the capital city of Athens – followed in the ranking that year.

Outbound and domestic tourism in Greece

With international travel restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic, many tourists turned to domestic trips, choosing to visit their home country rather than going abroad. In 2021, the number of outbound travelers from Greece stood at two million, dropping by nearly 74 percent compared to 2019. Meanwhile, the expenditure by outbound travelers from Greece experienced an annual increment in 2021, totaling 1.1 billion euros, but it did not catch up with pre-pandemic figures. On the other hand, even though the domestic tourism expenditure in Greece did not surpass the value recorded in 2019, it was significantly higher than outbound spending in 2021. Overall, Greek domestic travelers spent around 7.8 billion euros that year.

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