BUSINESS

Study shows sluggish growth in hotel beds despite rise in arrivals

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

TAGS: Tourism

Investment in new hotels in Greece has suffered considerably in the last few years, according to a survey by the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP).

The research, presented on Tuesday by the president of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, Giorgos Tsakiris, showed that in 2015 and 2016 the annual growth rate in the number of hotel rooms amounted to just 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent respectively.

In the previous decade the number of rooms had increased significantly: From 309,100 rooms in 2000, the total rose to 397,700 in 2010. Last year there were 407,100 rooms.

The number of hotel units rose by just three last year, coming to 9,730 from 9,727 in 2015. The year with the biggest annual increase in hotel units was 2010, when they grew 3.8 percent year-on-year to reach an all-time high of 9,732.

The Southern Aegean region is the leader in terms of hotel infrastructure as in 2016 it boasted 2,068 units and 99,700 rooms. It also ranked top in five-star units, numbering 144, and in hotel employee numbers, with 35,915 last year.

The chamber’s head expressed the view that the possible imposition of the levy per overnight stay as of 2018 would further burden the business climate in tourism, leading to the cancellation or postponement of planned hotel investments.

The ITEP study noted that the average Greek hotel is small in size, averaging 41.8 rooms. It also indicated that local units are constantly upgrading, as four- and five-star hotels account for 42.8 percent of the country’s total hotel capacity.

ITEP highlighted that Greek hotels have provided a steady source of employment during the financial crisis. Despite the annual reduction in tourism revenues last year, the employment rate grew 3.9 percentage points from 2015. Women account for 57 percent of all hotel employees, which illustrates that tourism generates jobs for social groups with reduced employment.

Asked about the validity of the Bank of Greece statistics on tourism that were disputed by Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, Tsakiris said that the central bank’s figures have been proven to be correct.

The statistics on hotel bookings last year showed that demand was particularly summer-heavy, confirming that the seasonal factor was a major problem for the local hotel industry for yet another year.

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