Few places in the world are as relaxing – or pretty – as the Greek Islands, the epitome of sun, sea and the simple life. Yet, after the political uncertainty recently, many have been wondering how the crisis would affect the country’s tourism.
Features in major newspapers in both Britain and the States this week are all reporting that Greece’s tourism is on the rise again. Flight bookings to Greece are up significantly over the past one to two weeks, and it looks like Summer 2015 could be even better than expected for those in the tourist trade.
Credit and debit cards are still being accepted in shops and restaurants, and most holidaymakers are reporting things are “business as usual” although it’s advisable to take plenty of holiday cash with you, as well as making sure you’ve got travel insurance.
ABTA stated recently that “reports from our members and holidaymakers on the ground suggest that it is very much business as usual in Greece and we have no indication that holidaymakers will be disrupted.”
While summer on the mainland can be very hot, July and August are some of the best months to enjoy the Greek Island breezes, poolside, with a chilled drink in hand. But the weather lingers until late autumn, making September the best time for a child-free getaway until the weather destabilises towards the end of October.
Hotel bookings have shot up, flight searches for Greece are up, and if you are heading out for a timeshare holiday to Greece in the next few weeks, you should find drinks and dining out prices very reasonable.
The quick recovery has surprised some – in late June and early July, hotel bookings were down 20% on last year but the past couple of weeks have seen a healthy rebound and Greek Tourism officials believe figures are now on a par or “slightly up” from levels last year.
Tourism is one of Greece’s most important forms of income. Last year it accounted for about 9.5% of gross domestic product with around 45 billion euros spent on shopping, eating out, at tourist sites and other tourism-related activities.
The 60 euro (approx. £42) daily ATM withdrawal limit affects only Greek citizens, not tourists, although it’s still advisable not to rely on bank cash machines and bring extra cash instead.
Tourism officials are hopeful that 2015 will mirror last year’s 22 million inbound arrivals – or even, possibly, exceed that figure.
Greece’s luxury resorts are doing especially well. Top resorts in Athens, Mykonos and Crete are all reported as fully booked until the end of September and for those planning to take a timeshare break in Greece this year – and still haven’t booked flights – Aegean Airlines has increased flights to and from Athens (from Europe) by 30% for the summer months, while ten global airlines have begun new daily flights in and out of Athens this year.
ABTA, Britain’s biggest travel association, says bookings to Greece are already up 2% on last year. A spokesman reported: Prices have dropped as a result of the crisis and the pound is strong against the euro. Customers called us up for advice but we had had no cancellations.”