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Athens: Deep pockets opt out

The arrivals of tourists in Athens may be on the rise, but tourists aren't spending a single euro more. So far, the benefits of tourist traffic in the country are not reflected in the turnover of commercial stores.

The prolonged heat limited the purchasing movement, resulting in turnover losses reaching 30% compared to the corresponding period last year. The first two weeks of the summer sales period, which are traditionally the best in terms of buying traffic, were "burned" by the high temperatures of July, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.

The goal of the retail trade this summer is for the total turnover of the two months of July-August to move above last year's threshold of 6.6 billion euros and to exceed 7 billion euros this year. The increase in turnover in the above two months is also based on the increased tourist flows, during the period of summer sales, where foreign visitors enter the sum of the turnover with "imported consumption".

Tourists aren't shopping

While the tourist season started with a headwind, with arrivals and revenues moving from 2019, however the two months of May – June came and grounded the excitement.

Devastating fires in Rhodes, one of the country's most popular tourist destinations, have sunk tourism traffic, while defamatory comments on social media by foreign visitors about profiteering in Mykonos have curbed tourism revenue.

Market circles speaking to OT say that "there are tourists in Athens, but they don't shop". Despite attractive prices and offers across the market, corporate coffers look rather empty.

What the same circles say is that it doesn't matter how many visitors will prefer Greece this year, but how deep a pocket they will have, hence the targeting of high income tourism.

This year Greece lost the Chinese, who after Covid and the quarantine imposed on them by the government prioritize traveling to other European cities such as London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona... and then Athens and Greece in general. Tourists bought a variety of products and the more financially prominent gravitated toward luxury items.

However, businessmen consider August crucial for the growth of tourist revenues, as it is the month with the largest traffic from abroad, while also having high expectations for the volume of arrivals in September.


May was a big stimulating "injection" for tourist receipts.

According to data from the Bank of Greece (BoG), revenues in May increased by 24.8% compared to the corresponding month of 2022, reaching 1.75 billion euros.

As for travel traffic in May, through airports it increased by 14.2% compared to May 2022 and that through road border stations by 9.8%. The increase in inbound travel came from a rise in travel from both EU-27 countries by 12.7% and from non-EU-27 countries by 15.8%.

Who and how much they spent last year

Americans spend the most per visitor in our country, Germans are more conservative in their travel expenses than other Europeans in times of crisis, while the British do not "understand" inflation and are expected to be the protagonist for 2023, in our country.

These conclusions derive from tourism research institute INSETE's Market Outlook "Travel behavior and economic conditions in the main inbound tourism markets - 2023".

After the Americans, whose per capita expenditure in the country exceeds 1,000 euros (1,101 euros), the Swiss follow with 879 euros, the Germans with 748 euros, the Austrians with 741 euros and the French complete the top five with 726 euros.

The figures refer to 2022, while how the total travel expenses, arrivals and therefore the per capita expenditure will fluctuate this year is still in question.

  • Published in Travel
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