LONDON, UK - The World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) today reveals that the dramatic collapse of the Greek Travel & Tourism sector has wiped out €23 billion from the nation’s economy.
The annual EIR from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, shows the sector’s contribution to GDP dropped a staggering 61.1%.
Following three consecutive successful years in which the country’s Travel & Tourism sector’s growth outpaced that of the overall economy, its Travel & Tourism GDP fell from €38.1 billion (20.3%) in 2019 before COVID-19 ripped through the heart of the sector, to just €14.8 billion (8.7%), a mere 12 months later, in 2020.
The year of damaging travel restrictions, which brought much of international travel to a grinding halt, resulted in the loss of more than 65,000 Travel & Tourism jobs across the country.
WTTC believes the true picture could be significantly worse, if not for the government’s Short-Term Working scheme which offered a lifeline to thousands of businesses and workers. However, this is hiding the real extent of the losses and the devastating social impact they could bring.
These job losses were felt across the entire Travel & Tourism ecosystem in the country, with SMEs – which make up eight out of 10 of all global businesses in the sector – particularly affected.
Furthermore, as one of the world’s most diverse sectors, the impact on women, youth and minorities was significant.
The number of those employed in the Greek Travel & Tourism sector fell from 825,000 in 2019, to 759,000 in 2020 - a drop of 7.9%.
The report also revealed domestic visitor spending declined by 42.3%, while international spending, which it strongly relies on, fared even worse due to more stringent travel restrictions, causing a drastic fall of 76.9%.
Gloria Guevara, President & CEO WTTC, said: “The loss of more than 65,000 Travel & Tourism jobs in Greece has had a terrible socio-economic impact, leaving huge numbers of people worried about their future.
“However, the situation could have been far worse if it were not for the government’s job support scheme which could save thousands of jobs under threat and has helped to halt the total collapse of the Travel & Tourism sector.
“We must also praise the Greek government for its tremendous efforts and strategic steps taken to restart international travel. It has been an example throughout the pandemic, striking the balance between the health emergency and the economy, by allowing international travel through very clear testing and hygiene protocols.
“Additionally, the clear roadmap to restart international travel from 14 May, could reopen the door to a summer of travel for holidaymakers looking to get away to Greece, and will provide a significant boost to the country's economy.
“There are now grounds for optimism and we believe that if the vaccine rollout picks up pace and restrictions for travel are relaxed on 14 May as planned, and with a comprehensive testing regime on departure in place, we predict the majority of the 66,000 jobs lost in Greece could return this year.
“We know tens of thousands of SMEs, which make up the bulk of the ailing Travel & Tourism sector, are still fighting for their survival, putting at risk the capacity of the country to recover from the crushing impact of COVID-19.
“WTTC believes that another year of terrible losses can be avoided if the government continues to support the swift resumption of international travel, which will be vital to powering the Greek economy.
“Our research shows that if mobility and international travel resumes by June this year, the sector’s contribution to global GDP could rise sharply in 2021, by 48.5%, year-on-year.”