ECONOMY

‘Limited’ impact of Sept. 11 on tourism

The domestic tourism industry is not expected to feel any major impact from the global crisis brought on by the events of September 11, as the greater part of arrivals to Greece took place before that date, the tourism division of the Development Ministry said yesterday. As 80 to 90 percent of scheduled tourist trips occurred before September 11, the immediate impact in the remaining months will be limited, the tourism department said in a statement following a meeting between Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos, tourism Secretary-General D. Georgarakis, and Evgenios Yiannakopoulos, head of the Greek National Tourist Organization yesterday. The fact that overseas markets such as the USA, Oceania, Asia and Africa contribute to only 6.9 percent of total inbound foreign arrivals has also helped the local tourism industry contain the repercussions of the global crisis. The tourism division said the sectors most likely to be affected by the slowdown in tourist arrivals are the cruise industry, marine tourism, conference-related tourism and high-class hotel accommodation in Athens. Outward-bound tourism heading for the eastern Mediterranean region and the Middle East has felt the impact more than other destinations. Among economic sectors, the airline industry reported the most damage. Despite the uncertainties in a number of countries, the tourism division said it remained optimistic for a recovery. It also said that tourist arrivals in 2002 are likely to remain at this year’s level. It predicted more tourists coming from Switzerland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and Russia. Inbound traffic from Australia, Austria and Germany in 2002 is projected to increase more than two to threefold against this year’s figures. The UK, Benelux, French and Finnish markets, on the other hand, are expected to show declines in tourist arrivals next year. Speaking at the national tourism council in Thessaloniki, held in conjunction with the international tourism fair Philoxenia in Thessaloniki, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said the ministry will adopt a long-term strategy for the tourism industry. He said that human resources will play a central role in this long-term perspective, with the focus on personnel training and job creation. The minister subsequently told the crisis management committee of the need to implement an aggressive policy with the goal of achieving a positive trade balance.