The Effects of Corona on Tourism: Visitors to Greece Down by 85%

The corona virus crisis has impacted the economies of many countries around the world, with perhaps the tourism sector feeling perhaps the most adverse effects.


With official data from the summer slowly being published, the damage COVID19 has done to the tourism sector becomes abundantly clear.

Even though many experts have expected this to happen – and those with first-hand travel experience this summer will probably have experienced on the ground – the numbers still come as a shock.

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Corona testing at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport ©Paliparan


This week, the Bank of Greece published its provisional data of tourist numbers to the country in July. Normally, this is a prime holiday month with popular islands such as Zakynthos, Mykonos or Crete being full of foreign holidaymakers.

According to the initial report, the number of foreign arrivals at Greek airports dropped by 83.2%, while the number of those arriving at the overland borders dropped by 89.9%. On average, tourist numbers were down 85.4% in July.


The breakdown of the numbers is quite telling as well, as the amount of tourists from non-EU countries dropped by 92.7% in July compared to the same month in 2019.

With external EU borders being shut for prime foreign tourist markets such as the US, China and Japan, this perhaps doesn’t come much as a surprise at all, as only a handful of foreign travellers with dual nationality or those heading on essential (business) trips were able to circumvent the travel measures.

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Tourist numbers to Greece were down by 85% in July compared to the previous year. ©Paliparan

European travellers

Yet also the number of visitors to Greece from other EU countries decreased sharply, as this number was down by 80.4%.

With many people choosing a staycation at home or domestic holiday above a trip to Greece, and travellers from certain EU countries being required to get a PCR test before travelling to Greece, this drop can also easily be explained.

As I already wrote myself in July based on my own on-the-ground experiences in Greece that month: “Most hotel owners I spoke to estimated that in July occupancy is around 10 to 15 percent of a normal July month. Although they said that in August this was up to 25%, the numbers are still shockingly low compared to normal times.”

It seems that this observation was pretty much spot-on indeed.


It is however not only Greece which faced a sharp decline in tourist numbers. According to a Turespana report, visitor numbers to Spain were down 80% in July as well.

In other popular destinations such as Italy and France, similar numbers are being mentioned.

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Tourist numbers to Spain went down by 80%. ©Paliparan

Travel experience

On the plus side, many tourists who did travel this summer appreciated the rather empty destinations. If you always wanted to visit normally overcrowded destinations such as Santorini, Prague or Venice, this year is certainly the time to travel if you can!

Travelling through Greece, Poland and Portugal this summer, I surely appreciated the lack of tourist masses, even though I fully realise how hard this must be to those who make a living out of tourism and sympathise with all those who are affected by COVID-19.

If you can travel and feel secure enough doing so, I therefore really recommend you to support the industry and plan an autumn trip somewhere. I will for sure be doing the same!

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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