By Stathis Kousounis
Foreign tourists’ average per capita spending in Greece remains at low levels, notwithstanding the signs of recovery observed so far this season.
Greece’s failure to catch up in terms of luxury tourism accommodation, major conference centers in major cities, cruise home ports, marinas and other areas are just some of the drawbacks which are holding the country back from attracting more affluent visitors. This is despite the fact that Greece registered a new record last year in total foreign tourism arrivals (including cruise passengers), totaling 20.1 million, and tourism revenues, which came to 12.2 billion euros.
In 2013 the average spending per trip of foreign visitors to Greece amounted to 604.2 euros, posting an annual decline of 1.9 percent, according to Bank of Greece data. A contributing factor was the low financial performance of cruise tourism as passengers’ average spending – incorporated in its entirety in the 2013 data – came to just 203.1 euros.
Those who spent the most during their visits to Greece were the Canadians (1,388 euros per trip), followed by the Australians (1,369 euros), Americans (1,218 euros), Russians (989 euros), Swiss (961 euros) and Austrians (898 euros).
Still, the latest BoG data, concerning tourists’ expenditure in January and February of this year, point to an increase compared with the same period in 2013: Spending per trip (not including that by cruise passengers) increased 6.3 percent to reach 397 euros.
Among Greece’s direct rivals, the country with the highest per capita spending by visitors is Spain, which enjoyed revenues of 976 euros per tourist last year, posting an annual increase of 3.7 percent. This rose further in the first three months of this year, climbing to 1,000 euros. Cyprus also fared better than Greece as its visitors spent an average of 860 euros each in 2013. Visitors to Turkey parted with an average of 535 euros last year, but in the first three months of 2014 that figure rose to 628 euros.