Celebrities and vacationers are flooding into Greece. However a tough winter shouldn’t be far | Helena Smith

Eearlier this month, Elon Musk flew to Mykonos, coughing up €7,000 to benefit from the luxurious of a gold-colored speedboat for a number of hours. On close by Paros, Roger Federer watched the flames together with his household away from the tennis court docket whereas Magic Johnson loved “altering lives” on the Acropolis and Nicole Kidman thanked “lovely Greece” on Instagram.

Greece has a good looking summer season. When tourism officers suppose it will probably’t get any higher, it does. Athens is anticipating 1,000,000 vacationers this week; report numbers are flocking to the islands – jellyfish however – and there are celebrities on vacation.

“This yr the entire world is voting [for] Greece,” the minister of tourism, Vassilis Kikilias advised Observer. “We’ve got the struggle in Europe, the plague continues to be with us, the vitality disaster, the worldwide instability, inflation, the battle with Turkey and even the jellyfish and they’re nonetheless coming. Arrivals to the favored islands are up by 20%.

Within the Greek capital it cannot do higher once more: after the misplaced years of the coronavirus holidaymakers have returned in massive numbers, crowded within the streets of the town’s historical past and plenty of archaeological websites.

Figures already present a vacationer season that may surpass the world report of attracting 33.1 million vacationers – greater than thrice the variety of Greece – in 2019.

Elon Musk, who flew to Mykonos, was one of many many celebrities to go to Greece. Photograph: Lily Lawrence/Getty Photos

For Costas Lavidas who runs the kebab store that first made his grandfather well-known again within the Fifties, vacation makers have a safe life. “What is for certain is that if there have been no vacationers I would not have the enterprise I had,” he mentioned, putting the pork chops behind him because the traces fashioned exterior the restaurant from Syntagma Sq. in Athens. “I thank God that they exist!”

It isn’t simply the resort islands which can be reporting an enormous rise in arrivals. The demand for ships has additionally elevated, and over 700 liners are anticipated to dock at Greek ports in 2022. “There was a 280% enhance within the port of Thessaloniki and a 130% enhance in Piraeus,” mentioned Kikilias.

Flights to Athens worldwide airport – among the many few in Europe to not be affected by delays this summer season – jumped by 20%. The surgical procedure is that if there’s a downside in any respect it’s discovering sufficient staff to make use of on this business. In latest months resorts and lodges have recruited Ukrainian refugees to assist fill vacancies.

“Since March 2 there have been 9 direct flights from the US to Athens day by day. It has been a sport changer,” added Kikilias. “About 500,000 People are anticipated to return in November. Those that spend some huge cash and the greenback to euro ratio can spend much more. “

Greece acquired €18.2bn in vacationer income in 2019 and simply surpassed €10bn final yr when Greece opened its borders in Could. Chatting with CNN final Thursday, Greek coach Kyriakos Mitsotakis mentioned he thought officers can be “shocked” in the event that they “simply do the mathematics” on the finish of the season.

“Greece is doing effectively this summer season,” he advised the US community. “We put loads of effort into creating our tourism constructing, seeing that new funding in tourism has stopped. We’ve got seen this yr’s tourism season begin early and I hope it can finish quickly.”

In an financial system that depends on this sector – tourism accounts for 25% of Greece’s financial system and one in 5 jobs – the journey bug that appears to have taken maintain post-Covid has had the impact of being greater than a psychological balm.

Removed from the crimson numbers, the Greeks know that they’re ready for a dry winter. Inflation hit 11.5% – 28 years – this month, based on knowledge revealed by Eurostat on Friday. In a rustic the place the minimal wage is €713 a month and it’s estimated that 43% of staff can’t take vacation, costs are excessive.

“There are lots of folks on this nation who work for lower than €1,000 a month,” mentioned Nikos Vettas, an economist who leads the influential IOBE suppose tank.

“Greek wages are decrease than the typical wages within the EU, partly due to the disaster,” he added, referring to the austerity that has been the price of bailing out the debt-ridden nation. As such, the rise in costs for a lot of homes has been surprising.

“Our financial system continues to be secure, the financial system has decreased by 25%,” mentioned Vettas. “Though it’s rising sooner than many others in Europe resulting from tourism, the vitality disaster and the struggle in Ukraine are critical threats that can not be ignored.”

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