Ahead of harsh winter, tourism roars back in Mediterranean
CAPE SOUNION, Greece — When Stelios Zompanakis quit his job at Greece’s central bank to try his luck at boat racing, friends and family pleaded with him to reconsider.
Nine years later, he spends summers on the “Ikigai,” a 53-foot yacht he named after the Japanese concept of finding happiness through a life of meaning.
Weeklong holiday trips on his yacht around some of the lesser-known Greek islands — Milos, Sifnos, Serifos, Kythnos and many others — were booked up through October.
“The demand is insane,” said Zompanakis, who recently paced barefoot around the teak-paneled deck to adjust the sail and check instrument panels as the boat swung past the ancient Temple of Poseidon, on a clifftop south of Athens.
Tourism around the Mediterranean has been booming. Helped by a strong U.S. dollar and Europeans’ pent-up demand to find a beach after years of COVID-19 travel restrictions, it’s been a stronger comeback from the pandemic slump than many expected, which led to long lines, canceled flights and lost luggage this summer at many European airports — though not in Greece.
“People after COVID, after two years of frustration,