Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called climate change “an opportunity to expand our tourism season” after his country suffered deadly wildfires and historic floods in recent months.
Asked if the scorching temperatures recorded in Greece over the summer could encourage tourists to seek destinations in northern Europe, Mitsotakis told Bloomberg TV “it’s still going to be some time before the Scandinavian beaches ... compete with the Greek beaches.”
“People still enjoy the hot Mediterranean and they do want to come to the Mediterranean and to Greece in particular during the summer because they like to spend time at the beach,” Mitsotakis said. “If anything, I would argue that climate change is an opportunity for us to expand our tourism season.”
Mitsotakis argued that rising temperatures could help make his country a year-round destination, expanding the popular July and August season.
At the same time, Mitsotakis recognized the climate crisis is here to stay and said he has been urging his colleagues in Europe to take measures related to “short-term adaptation.”
“We spend trillions of euros on long-term mitigation and rightly so, because we want to be leaders in the climate transition. But we also need to support people when they lose their livelihoods, their houses as a result of climate disasters today,” Mitsotakis said.
Earlier this month, floods in central Greece killed at least 17 people on the heels of a major wildfire that destroyed over 230,000 acres and killed more than 20 people.
Another blaze in Rhodes in mid-July made headlines, with tourists frantically seeking to flee the island.
Greece is far from the only European country dealing with extreme weather-related events.
Last year, the continent registered 61,672 heat-related deaths during the summer months, according to a study by the Nature Medicine journal.