Greek Tourism Thriving Despite Eurozone Concerns

Greek Tourism Thriving Despite Eurozone Concerns
Greek Tourism Thriving Despite Eurozone Concerns

Despite fears that Greece could leave the eurozone, its tourism industry—which accounts for nearly 20% of the country’s GDP—is still healthy, according to government data.

The arrival of international tourists to Greek airports was up 9.5 percent this year through May, compared with the same period last year, according to , CNBC reported.

People in the industry say Greece will continue to be a popular tourist destination as long as social unrest does not grip the country like it did in 2010.

“Greece is more popular this year than we’ve seen it in many years,” said Damian McCabe, CEO of McCabe World Travel.

“This has a lot to do with the strength of the US dollar and also no visible political strife. Press or news about the impending financial crisis has not stopped travelers from asking about travel to Greece this summer.”

Tourism is expected to account for 9.5% of total Greek employment in 2015, according to a recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Athens was one of the top trending destinations in 2015 on travel website Kayak.

“We’ve seen a 17-percent increase in searches to Athens year over year,” said the website’s North American brand director, Dave Solomito,

Experts believe Greece could see social unrest, regardless of whether the country exits the eurozone. Athens has seen peaceful protests this week.

On the other hand, a possible exit from the eurozone would mean a severely weakened currency—whether it is the euro or a revived drachma. This would bode well for tourists hailing from countries with stronger currencies.

Elena Frangakis-Syrett, a professor at Queens College who researches and has published on Greece, said the purchasing power of US tourists would increase in the event of significant monetary policy changes. But she thinks an exit from the common European currency area is unlikely.

“Even if there is political strife, [it] can be contained to protests and rallies, as it has been the case so far,” she said.