BUSINESS

German visitors will easily exceed 4 million this year

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Tourism

Six in every 10 rooms at a four-star hotel at Kolymbia, on the island of Rhodes, are already booked for the whole 2018 season. Half of those bookings are from the German market, the unit’s director told Kathimerini. Demand from Germany is so high this year, he added, that any discounts offered do not exceed 10 percent.

It therefore comes as no surprise that pretty much the entire Greek tourism industry traveled to Berlin this week for the ITB tourism fair, Europe’s biggest. For Greek tourism, the German market is this year expected to fetch revenues of over 3 billion euros. Takings from German visitors last year grew 31.9 percent on an annual basis to reach 2.54 billion euros, Bank of Greece figures showed. This year, according to data from the GFK tourism market research institute, German tour operators are reporting a 40 percent increase in bookings for Greek destinations compared to 2017.

If this trend continues, even when allowing a 10 percent margin of error, German arrivals in Greece will easily exceed 4 million; last year German visitors rose 16.1 percent year-on-year to reach 3.706 million, according to the Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE Intelligence).

Not all is rosy, however: “With the high taxation on Greek hotel enterprises, it is impossible for us to compete with our Turkish peers on prices,” a Greek entrepreneur warned from Berlin.

It’s not just Turkey; demand from Germany for holidays in Tunisia has soared 80 percent this year, and in Egypt by 70 percent. “Maybe 2018 will prove to be the last year of growth for foreign arrivals in Greece,” another tourism businessman surmised. Similarly, SETE Intelligence warned recently that “much stronger competition conditions are seen as of 2019, which will be a significant drawback for Greek tourism due to the high taxation (value-added tax, stayover tax) of its product.”

The second most important pool of visitors is Great Britain, but the unfolding Brexit process has affected consumer confidence and kept demand for Greece unchanged from 2017.

Mild growth is also being reported from France, while the signs from the US are far more encouraging: “We have seen a considerable increase in bookings for private tours in Greece,” the vice president of a company specializing in high-income US visitors said.

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