According to the final data revealed by the Bank of Greece on Wednesday, a total of 33,072,000 people visited Greece from January 1 to December 31, 2018.
According to the official data, the inbound tourist arrivals in Greece reflected an increase of 9.7 percent compared to 2017, when 30,161,000 people visited the country.
The revenue generated by tourists reached the figure of €16.086 billion, which is an increase of 10 percent over figures from 2017.
Nearly seven out of every ten euros of revenue were generated by EU citizens who visited Greece, representing €11,109 billion, which was an increase of 11.5 percent compared to the previous year.
The non-EU citizens who visited Greece generated €4,645 billion in revenues, which was more than 7.5 percent over revenues seen in the previous year.
The specific data for individual countries reveals, however, that politics and geopolitics continues to have a significant impact on tourism.
For example, during 2018, a year when Greek-Russian relations deteriorated significantly, the revenues from Russian tourists in Greece were reduced by nearly a fifth in that one year. This was thought to be due to Russian anger over the Prespa Agreement and the religious confrontation between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Moscow.
On the other hand, as Greek-American relations are seen to be warming significantly, US tourists who visited Greece in 2018 brought to the country revenues which showed an increase of 27.8 percent, reaching an impressive €1.040 billion.
Tourist operators expect that 2019 will be another very good year in terms of tourist arrivals and revenues for Greece, continuing an upward trend which began approximately five years ago.
Greece Breaks All Tourism Records, Welcomes 33 Million Travelers in …
documents/20181/1515741/ GreeceInFigures_2018Q4_EN.pdf/ e64eb95a-766b-4540-847b- 43dd555b5aa4
Number of foreign arrivals in hotel establishments on the Cyclades Islands in Greece from 2010 to 2017 (in 1,000)
European Parliament: Overtourism Poses Risks for Santorini
The European Parliament’s Transport Committee has stated that government policies are needed to curb the damaging effects of overtourism on Santorini.
2018 Was a Record Year for Tourism Revenue
Data from the Bank of Greece show that 2018 broke the previous record for tourism revenues and saw an extension of the tourism season.
Travel receipts amounted to 15.847 billion euros in the first 11 months of last year, Bank of Greece data showed on Tuesday, posting an annual increase of 9.7 percent, or 1.41 billion euros.
It is now clear that receipts had exceeded 16 billion by the end of last year – a new record. Incoming tourism traffic came to 29.47 million visitors in the same period, an increase of 10.6 percent from a year earlier.
The November data in particular showed that the seasonal character of Greek tourism is receding, as that month revenues increased 42.4 percent year-on-year.
Half of all tourism spending in Greece made on southern islands
Crete, including Hania, is a hugely popular destination for foreign visitors to Greece. It accounted for almost a quarter of expenditure by tourists in the entire country last year.
One in every four euros that foreign tourists spend in Greece is spent on the islands of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese in the Southern Aegean. If one adds Crete, then almost 50 percent of annual expenditure by visitors to Greece is spent on just a couple of dozen islands.
These were among the findings of the statistical processing by the Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation (INSETE) of 2017 data supplied by the Bank of Greece. The analysis showed that foreign visitors spent 3.65 billion euros on the islands of the Southern Aegean last year, plus 3.26 billion euros on Crete. Therefore those two regions accounted for 48.6 percent of total tourism spending last year in Greece, which amounted to 14.2 billion euros.
Much as Athens has seen its tourism data improve, expenditure in the capital barely topped 2 billion euros last year.
The region with the lowest amount of visitors, overnight stays and spending by foreign tourists in 2017 was Western Macedonia: It accounted for just 45 million euros in tourism revenues from foreigners, or just 0.3 percent of the country’s total. The neighboring region of Central Macedonia posted the highest number of foreign visitors in Greece, thanks to its proximity to several other Balkan countries, including Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, and the frequent visits their citizens made to Thessaloniki and Halkidiki.
According to INSETE, Central Macedonia accounted for 13 percent of total receipts last year, 19.4 percent of all overnight stays and 23.4 percent of visitors. The second region in visitor numbers was the Southern Aegean, which accounted for 19 percent of all visits last year.
Each tourist visiting Greece in 2017 stayed for an average of 6.8 nights and spent 458 euros, or 68 euros per overnight stay. The average duration of stay grew by 0.8 percent from 2016, and average expenditure was up 1.9 percent, given that average spending per night increased 1.1 percent.
In fact, the biggest rises in overnight stays and expenditure by foreign tourists were to be found in the Peloponnese, the Southern Aegean and Attica in 2017, with luxury resort Costa Navarino contributing toward the advance of the Peloponnese
Santorini suffers under tourism boom
Santorini may be pulling in the holiday visitors; the problem is where to put them all.
Tourism leaders on the popular Greek island are delighted and the steady rise in international arrivals at the island airport – up more than a third year on year.
And they are flying in greater numbers too with a 400% rise in holiday visitors to the island over the past five years.
But the influx has triggered a massive increase in hotel and apartment building on the small island, and not everyone is happy with the results.
Santorini mayor, Nicos Zorsos, says he is, of course, pleased at the soaring popularity with visitors but describes the hotel building on the island as ‘excessive’.
It follows reports that the number of hotel beds on Santorini now is 990 per square kilometre, a number greater than many popular holiday resorts on mainland Greece.
The rise in visitor numbers is not confined to the regular summer season. Arrivals in October were ‘exceptional’ as Santorini markets itself as an all-year-round destination.
The tourist season on the island of Santorini now extends from March until Christmas, and more than two million tourists visit each year.
But the downside is that around 140 new hotels are poised to open their doors over the winter, helping to make Santorini one of the most crowded islands in the Cyclades.
Not all holidaymakers are staying on the island as cruise ships can thousands of visitors each day – around 15,000 daily at the height of the summer.
Up-market fashion boutiques, stylish coffee shops and fancy restaurants have mushroomed to cash in on the tourist trade.
Goodies on offer include helicopter flights over the caldera, luxury boat hire and scuba diving lessons.
It’s all good for the island economy but some fear over-exploitation and the loss of valuable rural land. In particular is the threat to the vineyards for which the island is famous.
Santorini currently has 2,700 hectares of vineyards and the volcanic soil produced some award-winning wines with the industry providing jobs and significant revenues.
But the island building boom and encroaching hotels could see precious vines dug up to make for holiday apartments and boutique hotels.
Santorini, also known as Fira, is one of the Cyclades group of Greek islands and has long been one of the top holiday hotspots in the Greek Islands.
The volcanic island has villages of white-cube houses perched on top of a sheer cliff face, giving dramatic views of the massive caldera.
Islets in the centre of the caldera are still active and the offshore fumes give rise to some of the most dramatic sunsets to be found anywhere in the world.
Santorini is also a favourite port of call for Mediterranean cruise ships that ferry in visitors by the thousand while the island airport gets thousand of charter flights over the long holiday season.
Despite it’s popularity, this is not a great island for beaches. Most are found on the south-east coast and are made up of gritty, grey and black volcanic sand that can sizzle in the summer heat.
But the clifftop villages in the west are picture postcard stuff with white cube houses dotted with blue domed churches while glitzy boutiques and classy restaurants cater to the well-heeled visitors.