BUSINESS

Tourism surprisingly underperforms in July

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

TAGS: Tourism

Greek tourism revenues failed to post a turnaround in July, bringing losses in the first seven months to to 345 million euros year-on-year, data compiled by the Bank of Greece showed on Tuesday.

Travel receipts in the period from January to July declined by 4.8 percent year-on-year, reaching 6.78 billion euros, while arrivals in the same period rose 1.1 percent from 2015.

In July alone, travel receipts and arrivals went downhill on an annual basis: The drop in takings exceeded 100 million euros, or 3.5 percent, while arrivals shrank by 2 percent from July 2015.

The July results are particularly disappointing compared with the same month of 2015, when tourism activity was burdened by the introduction of capital controls, the bailout referendum and the strong rumors about a Greek departure from the eurozone.

The flow of takings in August and September will determine the course of the year’s revenues, as the problems that rival destinations such as Turkey have faced in these two months have sent more last-minute international bookings to Greece. The most likely scenario is that arrivals will remain on a positive course for the whole of 2016, but the question is whether those increased visitor numbers will improve the picture as regards travel receipts for the year.

Sector professionals say that failure to counter the negative images coming out of Greece due to the refugee crisis has taken a toll on tourism this year, with the latest news from Lesvos aggravating the situation further.

The Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE) said a solution to the migration problem is urgently needed, while the head of the Lesvos hoteliers’ association, Periklis Antoniou, said that following the latest incident there now is a clear threat to tourism on the island in 2017. He added that there is no coordination as regards improving the island’s image in foreign markets, stressing that fragmentary solutions will not prevent the collapse of tourism on Lesvos. For instance, he said, there are hotels on the island with 100 beds and just two customers, so hoteliers are considering asking the government for compensation.

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