BUSINESS

Tourism drops in Greece after 5 record years

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Tourism

Tourism traffic this summer in Greece is slightly slower than last year, according to surveys, air arrival data and hoteliers.

The biggest pressure has been reported in Crete, as air arrivals dropped 7.2 percent in Iraklio in May and 5.6 percent in Hania. All other Fraport Greece-managed regional airports posted a decline averaging at 1.5 percent compared to a year earlier.

The drop observed in May appears to have continued into June, with the first few days of last month halving the gains recorded in the first six months of 2019. Hotel sector professionals speak of low occupancy rates and reduced prices, with the exception of destinations such as Myconos. At the same time the elections have predictably suppressed domestic tourism, as revealed by ferry figures, but this is expected to recover over the next few days.

Just four weeks ago a survey by the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) conducted among hotel owners showed that 43 percent of hoteliers expect a 16 percent drop in occupancy this summer. One in six hoteliers (16 percent) sees their prices falling an average of 13 percent from summer 2018.

In the first quarter of the year 45 percent of hotels that operate year-round reported an average decline in occupancy of 24 percent year-on-year, and 31 percent of owners expect a 20 percent drop throughout the year along with a 13 percent fall in prices. On average, the occupancy rates across the country dropped 7.4 percent in January-March.

The main reasons for this pressure on Greek tourism are to be found in the economic slowdown seen in many countries from which Greece has traditionally drawn visitors, as well as the special case of Britain and its anticipated exit from the European Union – Britain is the second biggest market for Greek hotels. It should also be noted that this decline in 2019 is coming after five consecutive years of record figures in visitors and revenues for Greek tourism.

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