BUSINESS

Tourism sector’s growing split

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS, NIKOS ROUSSANOGLOU

TAGS: Tourism

Greece will be a two-tier tourism market this year, and the performance gaps between different sectors, enterprises and destinations look set to broaden.

According to the president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Andreas Andreadis, bookings for 2017 are in positive territory. However, the destabilization of Turkey is generating concern as this will hurt Greek tourism in the long term.

The determining factor for tourism in the Mediterranean this year will be security levels at destinations that court the same markets as Greece. Already a large section of the tourism market that Turkey is losing due to successive terrorist attacks in Greece’s eastern neighbor is heading to other destinations.

The limited options in the stock of hotel beds at safe destinations for the upcoming season is spreading the interest of foreign tour operators across Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal and even Croatia and Bulgaria. In this broader geopolitical environment of insecurity, Greece is enjoying gains in foreign markets through bookings for package holidays before it has even launched its promotional campaign.

However, popular destinations and tourism enterprises will keep growing, while the smaller ones will be weakened by overtaxation.

A 19 percent yearly increase (or 3.6 million) in the number of air seats scheduled by airlines for Greece’s regional airports so far in 2017 has also been noted in the provisional schedule (which will be revised by the end of January).

On the other hand, representatives of cruise tourism companies estimate that the 30 percent decline in cruise passengers to Greece is irreversible, reducing their number by about 1 million. This is mainly due to the shift of cruise routes away from the Aegean – a result of the unrest in Turkey – and toward East Asia and Australia.

The SETE head adds that improved management of the refugee issue and the smooth completion of the second bailout review would go a long way toward ensuring that Greek tourism has a good year in 2017.

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