Mykonos Greece

Greek Tourism Flourishes in 2023, Surpassing Pre-Pandemic Levels

The Greek tourism sector showed extraordinary growth in 2023, eclipsing pre-pandemic levels and significantly bolstering the national economy.

Tourism has historically served as a shield against recession and unemployment in Greece, propelling the nation towards positive economic growth. The advent of the COVID pandemic severely curtailed global and local tourism, deeply impacting the economy and particularly tourist-centric regions. However, the subsequent years saw a swift resurgence, with 2021 and 2022 marking significant recoveries in both GDP and local economies, reinforcing Greece’s status as a premier global destination.

This upward trajectory continued into 2023, with tourism experiencing even more substantial growth. The broad distribution of tourist sites throughout Greece ensures that tourism significantly influences income across various regions.

However, the industry’s high seasonality, primarily driven by the sun and beach holidays that dominate Europe’s tourism market, remains a defining characteristic.

The lifting of all travel restrictions globally, including in Asian markets, as travel restrictions in other markets had already been lifted by Q1 2022, had a positive impact on further growth in tourism flows. As far as Greece is concerned, inbound tourism in 2023 recorded new peaks in both arrivals and
revenues, surpassing even the levels of 2019.

Specifically, in 2023:

  • Inbound tourism receipts amounted to €19.8 billion, up +12.2% compared to 2019 (€17.7 billion) and +14.9% compared to 2022 (€17.3 billion). Including cruise revenues, receipts amounted to €20.7 billion, up +13.8% compared to 2019 (€18.2 billion) and +17.0% compared to 2022 (€17.7 billion).
  • Inbound tourism arrivals reached 32.7 million in 2023, up +4.4% compared to 2019 (31.3 million) and +17.6% compared to 2022 (27.8 million). Taking cruise tourism into account, arrivals reached 36.1 million in 2023, up +6.1% compared to 2019 (34.0 million) and +20.8% compared to 2022 (29.9 million).
  • The direct impact of tourism (including inbound tourism, cruises, airline and ferry revenues, domestic tourism, and tourism investments) on the Greek economy in 2023 – at current prices – was € 28.5 billion, corresponding to 13.0% of the country’s GDP, while if its indirect contribution through multipliers is included, it corresponds to about 30% (between 28.5% and 34.3%).
  • The direct impact of tourism increased by +23.5% compared to 2019 (€23.1 billion) with significant increases in all individual expenditures (inbound, cruise, transport, domestic, investment).
  • Compared to 2022, when the direct impact was €23.9 billion, the increase in 2023 was 19.5%, also with significant increases in all individual expenditures.
  • Noteworthy is the increase in investment to €5.1 billion, of which €2.5 billion in domestic value added, compared to €2.7 billion / €1.2 billion in 2019 and €3.7 billion / €1.7 billion in 2022 respectively.
  • The total investment by the hotel sector, covering both new constructions and renovations, was estimated at approximately €2,033 million in 2022 and €2,816 million in 2023, reflecting an increase of +39%. See the most popular hotel openings in Greece.
  • Also noteworthy is the performance of cruise (3.3 million arrivals, 8.3 million overnight stays and €847 million in receipts), showing an increase of +64%, +155% and +102% respectively compared to 2022 and +26%, +104% and +70% compared to 2019.

In 2023, Greece welcomed over 32.7 million visitors, achieving a remarkable 17.6% increase in tourist arrivals compared to 2022. This surge boosted tourism receipts to €19.8 billion, marking a 14.9% growth from the previous year, as the sector continued to recover robustly from the pandemic downturn.

The uplift in tourism has had substantial ripple effects across various economic sectors. Notably, the air and maritime transport sectors experienced significant revenue gains, reflecting the broad economic impact of increased tourist activity. The investment in tourism infrastructure, particularly in hotels, also saw impressive growth, with substantial capital flowing into new constructions and renovations.

Employment in the tourism sector significantly contributed to reducing national unemployment rates. The robust growth in tourism-related jobs underscored the sector’s role as a key employment driver, particularly in regions heavily dependent on tourist flows.

Additionally, the balance of payments benefited from the heightened tourism activity, with travel receipts covering a substantial part of the trade deficit, demonstrating the sector’s importance in national economic stability.

The resurgence of tourism in Greece during 2023 not only surpassed pre-pandemic levels in terms of visitor numbers and financial receipts but also played a pivotal role in the broader economic recovery.

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