An increase in demand for travel to less popular island destinations compared to last summer is being recorded, as indicated by reservation data and passenger traffic of domestic airlines. The saturation and skyrocketing prices in top tourist destinations, combined with significant discounts offered by airlines, have strengthened tourists' preference for regional areas such as Astypalaia, Karpathos, Limnos, and Leros.
According to market factors, the rate of demand increase for these specific areas is only hindered by their limited infrastructure. Specifically, during the first 15 days of July, on an annual basis, the number of passengers to islands with historically lower tourist demand, where Aegean operates, is estimated to have increased by 15% to 20%.
For example, the number of Greek and foreign visitors increased by up to 80% in Naxos, with a corresponding percentage reaching 50% for the second largest island in the Dodecanese, Karpathos. Passenger traffic on Kefalonia, Limnos, and Leros, which attract travelers due to their more affordable cost of living compared to highly demanded tourist destinations, is estimated to be above 40%. The list of destinations with significant growth in passenger traffic includes islands in the Ionian Sea, such as Zakynthos, the Sporades, such as Skiathos, and the Northern and Eastern Aegean, namely Ikaria, Chios, and Lesvos. Compared to these islands, smaller rates of demand increase, but higher compared to 2022, are recorded for Samos, Kythira, Milos, and Paros, mainly due to their limited infrastructure capacity.
The increase in passenger traffic on Kefalonia, Limnos, and Leros exceeds 40%. In Mykonos and Santorini, the number of passengers has increased by 5% to over 15% during the first two weeks of July compared to the same period in 2022. In these destinations, the rate of increase in passenger traffic is much higher compared to top islands such as Mykonos and Santorini, where the number of passengers has increased by 5% to over 15% during the first two weeks of July compared to the same period in 2022. The number of Greek and foreign visitors increased by up to 80% in Naxos and 50% in Karpathos during the first 15 days of July. Despite improved performance in terms of flight occupancy rates, the total number of passengers transported from Mykonos and Santorini airports decreased by 3.1% and 1.3%, respectively, on an annual basis in June. One of the reasons for this decline is that flights to Mykonos and Santorini were 10.2% and 7.2% lower, respectively, during the first month of summer compared to the same period in 2022.
Aegean recently increased the available seats to and from Sitia, Skyros, and Limnos, offering more attractive fares to boost demand. According to reports, this led to demand increases of over 130% for Sitia and Skyros, and over 45% for Limnos.
The integration of destinations and the dispersion of visitors across the 13 regions of the country, as well as the expansion of the tourist season spatially and temporally, are among the main goals of the new leadership of the Ministry of Tourism under Olga Kefalogianni. Currently, according to a study by the Institute of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (INSETE), 83.5% of tourists visit five regions, namely the Southern Aegean, Attica, Central Macedonia, Crete, and the Ionian Islands.