ECONOMY

Tourism bounces back after election

Greece is fast regaining the trust of tourists and tour operators after the elections 10 days ago, with Expedia data showing that on June 18 there was a record number of holiday bookings for this country, according to the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels.

Internet holiday booking platform Expedia recorded a remarkable 27 percent increase in bookings in the June 18-24 week compared with the same period last year.

The chamber argued in a press conference on Tuesday that political uncertainty in Greece had generated major worries among potential visitors, but as soon as the risk of negative developments in the political and economic field was removed there was a rush to confirm bookings for Greek destinations.

The most significant booking increases on a yearly basis have been recorded for Corfu (82 percent), Hania (76 percent) and Santorini (74 percent). Myconos has observed a 27 percent rise, on a par with the national growth rate, while only Athens suffered a minor decline of 2 percent. Most bookings originate from the US, Italy and Great Britain, while the flow from Germany is showing a 2 percent drop.

Despite the post-poll upswing, the forecasts for the year remain negative. Chamber president Giorgos Tsakiris cited data from a survey by the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) that found a 32.5 percent yearly decline in bookings by the end of May for the June-September period, and estimated that hotel revenues will fall this year by 15-20 percent, i.e. a drop between 870 million and 1.16 billion euros. Hotel occupancy rates are seen declining by 10 percent and prices by 8 to 9 percent.

The ITEP survey further indicated that hotels that rely mostly on domestic tourism are bracing for a serious blow which will also weigh on the number of people employed in the sector. In the first quarter of the year overnight stays in Greek hotels went down by an annual rate of 25 percent.

Four- and five-star hotels have slashed their prices by an average of 15 percent from last year, while other hotels have cut rates by 23 percent on average.