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Tourism in Greece

Tourism in Greece

Greece recorded a total of seven million tourists in 2020, ranking 27th in the world in absolute terms.

That smaller countries regularly perform lower in a comparison of the absolute number of guests, is obvious. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of Greece, the result is much more comparable picture: With 0.69 tourists per resident, Greece ranked 57th in the world. In Southern Europe, it ranked 7th.

Greece generated around 6.19 billion US Dollar in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 2.9 percent of its the gross domestic product and approximately 13 percent of all international tourism receipts in Southern Europe.

A global comparison can be found here › International tourism


Back to overview: Greece

Most popular destinations in Greece

No less than 3 cities in Greece are among the top 100 most popular destinations worldwide. In 2019 Athens reached the 41st place with 6.30 million tourists. According to Euromonitor, all foreign tourists with at least one overnight stay were counted.

CityTouristsRankChange
Athens6,301,300#41+10.0%
Heraklion3,034,600#75-10.0%
Rhodes2,414,800#97+3.3%


Tourism in GreeceOn average, each of the tourists arriving in 2020 spent about 707 US Dollars. Conversely, the inhabitants of Greece spend only around 546 dollars a year when they themselves spend vacations abroad.

If one disregards the recent results of the COVID years, Greece has been experiencing a sustained tourism boom for years. The main reason for this is its Mediterranean location in the south of the Balkans, with a landscape of mountains and countless islands that is incomparable in Europe. Also the undoubtedly eventful history of the country with many monuments and attractions from Greek antiquity is one of the main reasons for which more and more tourists are flocking to the country.

The most famous are certainly the historic cities of Athens and Thessaloniki with a myriad of archaeological sites and museums. But also away from the tourist centers, art treasures are spread across the country. Whether Sparta, the Meteora monasteries or the many small castles and old towns: attractions are also spread over the more remote areas. Even more popular, however, are the gorgeous beaches of the Ionian Islands, the Peloponnese and the rugged waters of the Aegean Sea. Several thousand large and small islands attract masses of tourists year after year. First and foremost Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos and Santorini.

Hot summers and still mild winters with up to 17°C in December let especially Europeans travel more and more often to Greece. However, the number of visitors from China and the USA is also increasing noticeably. The pleasant climate also ensures that the vacation season begins much earlier than in other European countries and ends much later. While in neighboring Bulgaria the resorts already fall into their winter torpor at the end of September, Greek hiking areas are still in season until late November.

Booming individual tourism

Greece, with its countless destinations for hikers, mountaineers, wellness vacationers and sun-seekers, is not only considered to be particularly diverse, but also a comparatively inexpensive and at the same time safe country. It is hardly possible to experience the beauty and diversity of the country in a few weeks. This leads above all to a rush of individual tourists, who travel on their own initiative by car or camper across the country. In this way, the more remote areas are increasingly generating higher revenues. This provides a noticeable upswing in the regional economy: many farmers operate restaurants in addition to their world-renowned olive groves, which provide additional income during the vacation season.

Development of the tourism sector in Greece from 1995 to 2020

The following chart shows the number of tourist arrivals registered in Greece each year. Anyone who spends at least one night in the country but does not live there for more than 12 months is considered a tourist. Insofar as the survey included the purpose of the trip, business trips and other non-tourism travel purposes have already been excluded. The number of people passing through within the same day, and e.g. crew members of ships or flights are also not considered as tourists in most countries. If the same person travels in and out more than once within the same year, each visit counts again.

Data in the chart are given in millions of tourists. The red line represents the average of all 14 countries in Southern Europe.

Tourists per year in Greece

Revenues in tourism

In 1995, tourism revenues amounted to 4.18 billion USD, or about 3.1 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 10.71 million tourists at that time and roughly 390 USD per person. Within 25 years, the country's dependence on tourism has increased drastically. Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, sales took up $23.00 billion billion, 11.21 percent of gross national product. Thus, each visitor spent an average of $676 on their vacation in Greece.

In 2020, tourist receipts plummeted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Of the $23.00 billion billion (2019), only $6.19 billion billion remained. This is a 73 percent decrease in Greece.

Tourism receipts in Greece per year

All data for Greece in detail

YearNumber of touristsReceipts% of GNPReceipts per tourist
20207.41 m6.19 bn $3.3 %836 $
201934.01 m23.00 bn $11.21 %676 $
201833.07 m21.59 bn $10.18 %653 $
201730.16 m19.14 bn $9.6 %635 $
201628.07 m16.81 bn $8.7 %599 $
201526.11 m17.55 bn $9.0 %672 $
201424.27 m19.49 bn $8.3 %803 $
201320.11 m17.43 bn $7.3 %867 $
201215.52 m14.67 bn $6.1 %945 $
201116.43 m16.27 bn $5.7 %990 $
201015.01 m13.86 bn $4.7 %923 $
200914.92 m16.04 bn $4.8 %1,075 $
200815.94 m17.61 bn $4.9 %1,105 $
200716.17 m15.68 bn $4.9 %970 $
200617.28 m14.50 bn $5.3 %839 $
200515.94 m13.46 bn $5.4 %844 $
200414.27 m12.82 bn $5.3 %898 $
200314.79 m10.85 bn $5.4 %734 $
200214.92 m10.01 bn $6.5 %671 $
200114.68 m9.22 bn $6.8 %628 $
200013.57 m9.26 bn $7.1 %683 $
199912.61 m8.84 bn $6.2 %701 $
199811.36 m6.19 bn $4.3 %545 $
199710.59 m3.79 bn $2.7 %358 $
19969.78 m3.76 bn $2.6 %384 $
199510.71 m4.18 bn $3.1 %390 $


Our data on tourist numbers, revenues and expenditures are based on information from the World Tourism Organization. However, to ensure international comparability, the data for some years or countries were manually researched and corrected if they obviously included visitors without overnight stays. In these cases, the data were taken from the official communications of the respective national tourism authorities.

The WTO additionally points out that in some countries the number of tourists is only counted at airports, in others also at border crossings or even hotels. A comprehensive and reliable indication is therefore hardly possible in any country.

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