Rift between Ecumenical Patriarchate and Russia affects religious tourism in Greece

Over 800.000 Russian visitors arrived in Greece in 2018

The rift between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church, after the former recognised the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, has had a negative impact on religious tourism to Greece. According to information from representatives of religious tourism offices and groups, the number of visitors from Russia to Mount Athos in Macedonia, the holy mountain for 300 million Orthodox Christians, as well as other destinations in Greece has seen a dramatic fall over the past days as many tourists have cancelled their pilgrimages to these sites. According to romfea.gr, a rising number of visitors, families, and groups from Russia who had planned to visit primarily religious destinations in Greece cancelled their trips. This follows the interruption of communion between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Russia after the Patriarchate, seated in Constantinople recognised the Ukrainian Church’s right to be split from Moscow and have an autocephalous national church. Russians visitors make up 60% of the pilgrims in the monasteries of Mount Athos in Greece, according to data from the press service of Rosturizm and the Greek Ministry of Tourism. According to data, Russian tourists to Greece amounted to over 800,000 last year, with the aim for the next season of reaching 1 million, receiving a serious setback after the developments.