THE FUTURE OF GREECE: IS OVERTOURISM UPON THE ICONIC ISLANDS?

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If you’re anything like the girls of LLG, the country of Greece conjures up Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-inspired daydreams of you and your best friends riding donkeys up a cliffside town of whitewashed buildings with royal blue roofs, and days full of sunshine, cliff jumping, and searching the local market for fresh fish… and if you’re lucky, a cute fisherman to go with it.

It’s hard to believe this feel-good film debuted in 2008, yet still is fresh in our minds…

Fortunately for the country, it’s apparently done the same for many other girls and their guys, as their tourism sector has seen steady growth since the months following the movie’s release. Even before the time of influencers, people were flocking to see the iconic caldera views.

TO DATE, TOURISM ARRIVALS IN GREECE HAVE NEARLY DOUBLED SINCE THEIR 2009 NUMBERS. THE GUARDIAN REPORTS THAT IT’S NOW AMONG THE MOST POPULAR DESTINATIONS IN THE WORLD, SET TO ATTRACT 33 MILLION TOURISTS THIS YEAR ALONE.

However, other accounts seem to question the sustainability of this growth.

With a population of only 11 million, can the hospitality and tourism industries cater to an influx of tourists that is three times their local numbers? Will the newfound ‘overtourism’ term find its place amongst the Grecian islands? Will guest and tourism experience suffer?

New hotels and resorts are still popping up across the country, such as:

  • Four Seasons Astir Palace in Athens, each room with a private balcony overlooking nearby waters and in-house spa inspired by the teachings of Hippocrates

  • Casa Cook Chania in Crete, opened in May 2019 with laid-back luxury surrounding both the interior minimalist design and the exterior location along a stretch of the Cretan coast

  • Calilo, a five-star luxury spa resort opening on Ios, specifically on one of their untouched beaches in a remote 1,100-acre valley with private beaches and organic gardens

Sure, these openings amongst others allowed Greece’s tourism sector to create 105K+ jobs last month, but is this enough to keep up with the 5.4M+ Instagram posts to Santorini’s name?

As destination event professionals who may be working within this country at any time, given its high ranking on the bucket list of global destinations, it will be crucial to keep an eye on the country’s infrastructure—roads, airports, waste disposal, electricity grids, etc. to make sure they’re all up-to-date and won’t pose any difficulties for your destination event.

Grab your popcorn, kick your feet up, and follow us along to see what’s next for this film-favorite country!