ECONOMY

Tangible signs of tourism growth from foreign markets

Over a million more passengers than last year are expected to fly to Greece from foreign markets this tourism season, the head of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises, Andreas Andreadis, told a Bank of Greece shareholders’ meeting on Monday.

Andreadis expressed optimism for the season, with figures showing that the British market is reporting a rise of 20 percent, and the markets of Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries displaying growth of 15 percent. Developing tourism markets such as Russia, Ukraine, Israel and Turkey are also showing a rise in demand, leading to an increase of more than 20 percent in the number of seats available.

Andreadis stressed, however, that there are concerns about the markets of Italy, Spain and Bulgaria, as the financial troubles may not allow the emergence of growth trends toward Greece. He did add that there has been increased interest in maritime and cruise tourism, though incoming conference tourism remains somewhat lackluster owing to the image of Athens and Thessaloniki as destinations.

Domestic tourism, on the other hand, remains a major cause for concern, as last year it stood at just 50 percent (or 1.5 billion euros) of where it was in 2008, Andreadis said, with a further decline expected this year – albeit a rather small one.

Andreadis added that the targets of 17 million foreign tourists and 11 billion euros in revenues from tourism are likely to be attained or even exceeded. Should a few crucial measures be taken, he noted, Greek tourism could in the next two to three years reach up to 20 million visitors, adding some 3 percentage points to the country’s gross domestic product and tens of thousands of new jobs.