Growth in online exposure will see tourism rise 20 pct

The increase of online business and information regarding tourism in Greece to the levels of the country’s European Union peers should lead to the creation of over 100,000 jobs, a 3 percent increase in the country’s gross domestic product and 20 percent growth in the Greek tourism economy, according to a study by Oxford Economics.

The report on the consequences of Internet content on European tourism was presented on Wednesday in Athens at an event organized by Google under the auspices of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE).

It analyzed the impact of Internet content on the tourism economies of Greece, Italy and Spain. The study argues that the three countries’ performance in online bookings has been rather unimpressive to date although tourism demand is increasingly shifting toward an electronic environment. While Italy and Spain have a moderate penetration rate for electronic bookings (43 and 26 percent respectively), Greece has a very low rate that only just reaches 10 percent of all bookings. The average rate in the European Union stands at 49 percent.

Web searches about culture in the tourism destinations represent a remarkable 45 percent of all tourism searches on Greece, compared with 44 percent on Spain and 31 percent on Italy. The study argues that increasing online cultural content alone could benefit the country’s economy in the long term to the tune of 1.5 percent of GDP, creating 50,000 jobs.

David Goodger, director of tourism economics in Europe at Oxford Economics, stated that the benefits from an increase in Internet tourism activity will be greatest for small and medium-seized enterprises. Dionysis Kolokotsas, representing Google, said that 68 percent of tourists search online for information concerning their trip before traveling to their destination, while three in seven (42 percent) use the Internet during their holidays.

Tourism Development Minister Olga Kefaloyianni said the website has seen 7.3 million unique visitors, and she reiterated on the sidelines of the study’s presentation that the signs for tourism in 2014 are particularly favorable according to her contacts with German tour operators in Berlin.

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