Road tourism arrivals posted a decline in the first few months of the year, hampering the growth of overall tourism numbers. Tourism associations attribute this development mainly to the huge delay in tackling of the migration problem at Idomeni, on Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The head of the Halkidiki Hoteliers Association, Grigoris Tasios, says that in the last couple of months there have been thousands of cancellations for the popular destination in central Macedonia by tourists from Southeastern Europe. The main reason was the mistaken impression across the Balkan market that refugees and migrants had blocked roads and highways across Greece.
The decline in tourism traffic from the main Balkan markets in the first few months of 2016 affected the occupancy rates of popular destinations such as Halkidiki and Pieria, and as far south as in Magnesia, in Thessaly. The latest road arrival data point to a 6.4 percent year-on-year drop in the period from January to April. The biggest decline was in visitors from Bulgaria (the main market for northern Greek destinations), amounting to 39.4 percent on an annual basis.
Such is the significance of road arrivals for Greek tourism that over one in three visitors arrives in the country by car. Of the 23.6 million arrivals from abroad in 2015, some 8 million came by road. Furthermore, market professionals complain that the state has not placed enough significance on resolving the problems hampering road arrivals.