Not even incessant heatwaves and scorching forest fires can deter tourists from setting foot into Greece. The Mediterranean gem is on a tourism roll, hitting pre-pandemic levels. So, what is happening in Greece and why is it that tourists still want to visit Greece despite the heatwaves and forest fires?
Greece Faces A Massive Increase In Tourism
Earlier, actor Tahir Raj Bhasin shared stunning pictures from his Greece vacation. From delish food reccos to pictures at the iconic Acropolis, the actor through his travel diaries urged his fans to visit this travel gem. It’s not just him, from January to the end of August, Greece welcomed over 22.65 million people. This is apparently an 18.4 per cent increase in tourists since 2022.
The visitor count for the first 8 months of 2023 also exceeded the record set in 2019, which is 21.84 million tourists. Just like the rest of the world, Greece also faced a massive hit in tourism in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when travel restrictions were imposed.
However, it’s interesting to see that despite officials fearing that forest fires and heatwaves could negatively impact tourism, this wasn’t the case. Greece was ravaged by forest fires in July that resulted in heatwaves. Temperatures hit a whopping 46°C. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from two of the top Greek resorts, Rhodus and Corfu, due to the advancing flames. The forest fires killed 26 dead and scorched 150,000 hectares.
The reason Greece faced such a massive leap in numbers is all thanks to the surge in American tourists in 2023. With a 50.3 per cent jump in August 2023 as compared to 2022, American tourists provided a much-needed respite to the otherwise battered Greek tourism industry. For the Mediterranean nation, tourism is one of the main pillars of its GDP. It makes for around a quarter of Greece’s GDP.
Tourism Is Good. Overtourism, A Menace
However, this does come at a cost of over-tourism. While some Greek islands faced over-tourism issues. Others tackled exorbitant price rises. The locals haven’t been particularly pleased with the turn of events. Over the summer, a “beach towel movement” commenced. Locals slammed businesses renting deckchairs and parasols by the day at high prices.
The beautiful Greek island, Santorini is now facing the brunt of overtourism. The island’s 15,000 residents have seen overtourism as a total nuisance. There are placards placed all around the villages to remind tourists to practice responsible tourism. Especially urging them to respect the homes and sacred sites. With thousands of tourists purchasing water bottles everyday to combat the heatwaves, the rise in plastic pollution on Greek islands is also a major cause of concern.
The country’s famed landmark Acropolis will limit tourists to 20,000 per day with a ticketed timing system to curb overtourism. Tourism is desirable. However, tourism is a menace. It can lead to price rises, plastic pollution and even harm the nation’s priced monuments.
So, now that you know about the rise in tourism in Greece despite heatwaves and forest fires, does this urge you to visit Greece or deter you from it?
Cover Image Credits: Canva
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