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Athens mayor says tourism in Greece is no longer profitable

Athens mayor says tourism in Greece is no longer profitable

In Greece, tourism has soared. However, the country is struggling to cope with it all, even as it is pleased with the increased revenue.

Greece has seen an explosion in tourism in recent years, reaching its highest numbers ever. For a country that really relies on tourists as a large part of its economy (25-30% of their GDP comes from the tourism industry), they feel the pressure that these large numbers of tourists are putting on Greece’s system as a whole. And the mayor of Greece’s largest city says that the system in its current form is no longer viable.

Tourism in Greece is no longer profitable – Mayor of Athens

Greece has struggled with numerous economic problems over the past decades. Although the country has overcome its biggest problem in recent years, there are some areas of the country that have not been able to keep pace with the strong growth in tourism.

For example, tourist-frequented places have increased their prices to meet demand, especially given the reduced supply in certain areas. But tourists no longer come only in the summer. Many places are visited by tourists all year round. This puts pressure on locals, who often do not earn anywhere near as much as the new prices for accommodation and food. In fact, there are reports that Greeks will no longer be able to afford holidays this summer due to the rising cost of flights and accommodation.

And this time of year is a big time for Greeks and their holidays. The area we lived in really started lockdown in mid-July and almost completely came to a standstill during the August 15th holiday as people fled the city for the beaches. As it turns out, tourists are now making these pilgrimages too, and that makes it impossible for locals to do what they used to do.

The Mayor of Athens said that“Every visitor brings 40 cents to the city and we haven’t seen that money yet. We need to find a way to make tourism profitable.” Greece is trying to work on this by shifting some of its resources and focus to keep things sustainable and support the local economy in the future.

One of these measures was to limit the number of visitors to Greece’s most famous site, the Acropolis, each year. This limit allows 20,000 visitors per day to prevent the Acropolis from becoming completely overcrowded. I have been there in both high and low season and I can tell you that it is incredibly crowded in the summer.

They have also introduced fines for beach bars and cafes when it comes to the size of the beach they cover with their chairs and umbrellas. The cafes do not own these stretches of beach, in fact Greece has ruled that Greece’s coastlines are a public good and the public has the right to enter them at any time. To this end, Greece is cracking down on businesses that get too close to the sea. The limit is 4 meters – about 13 feet – from the sea. And no umbrellas or chairs can be rented on beaches that don’t even have 13 feet of sand. They have already issued over 350,000 euros in fines this year and that number is likely to rise quite a bit next month.

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A beach in Chalkidiki, Greece

Another problem is rents. Greece is redesigning the way rents work for the short-term market, including for properties purchased under the Greek Golden Visa program. This is due to many foreigners (and some rich Greeks) snap up apartments on the market and drive the rental prices far above normal rents in order to earn as much as possible from tourists.

To give you an idea, we had lived in a fantastic house that had a 1,500 m² fenced plot. The house itself was 1,500 m². It had beautiful views of the sea and the mountains and was only 15 minutes from the nearest beach. Our rental price was €650 per month. (the owners now rent it for €1,000 per month). Places in similar locations with less land, smaller houses and not as good views can cost up to €350-400. per night.

If you are visiting Greece as a tourist, you may not notice some of these things, but rest assured that Greece is working to make tourism sustainable in the future – in the end, this may mean paying a little more for your Greece vacation. But Greece is still a great destination and there are many places and options throughout the country where you can have an authentic Greek vacation – without paying the astronomical prices most tourists pay in popular places like Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, etc. I will be writing some posts about this in the future.

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