ECONOMY

June tourism arrivals point to major increase for 2013

Not only is the Greek tourism destination more than likely to exceed the target of 17 million arrivals from abroad and meet the goal for revenues of 11 billion euros, but the prospects for next year are already pointing to further growth in takings from the country’s main economic activity.

June arrivals at the country’s main airports grew 14.6 percent compared with the same month last year, amounting to 1.96 million, from 1.71 million in June 2012. In total, arrivals in the first half of the year posted a 10 percent rise from H1 of 2012, to reach 4.35 million, according to data processed by the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE).

Eleven out of the country’s 13 biggest airports reported a rise in arrivals from other countries last month, with Santorini reporting a 30.6 percent annual rise, followed by Iraklio (up 21 percent) and Rhodes (19 percent). Even Athens, a regular underperformer, showed a 9.6 percent yearly rise.

Such is the momentum of Greek tourism this year that several hotels at popular destinations have stopped taking bookings for the peak season as they have already reached a 100 percent occupancy rate. Notably, there is strong demand recorded for September, beyond the July-August peak season.

One of the main reasons for the increase in demand this year has been the lower prices Greek hoteliers have been offering to foreign markets after last year’s negative results. Another key factor has been the political stability, considering that there were back-to-back general elections in May and June last year.

One should add to these factors the recent developments in neighboring Egypt and Turkey that have led tourism professionals to revise their target for the year’s arrivals even higher, to above 17 million, as holidaymakers who had been planning to travel to those countries have now turned turned to Greece.

As for 2014, the contracts that hotel owners have already started signing with foreign tour operators’ representatives seem to be stemming the general trend for a hotel rate decline seen in previous years. There are even instances of price rises, which bodes very well for the course of revenues from tourism next year.