ECONOMY

Uncertainty, sliding ruble threaten this year’s tourism flow

The danger of a Greek departure from the eurozone and the ensuing crisis that would erupt in the country’s economy have generated major fears among Greek tourism professionals ahead of a largely unpredictable season, according to the president of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Andreas Andreadis.

Addressing an event organized by the Tourism Development Ministry on Athens tourism on Tuesday, Andreadis said that the fears elicited by the political and economic uncertainty have led to a major slowdown in bookings, while another negative factor is the expected decrease in the travel flow from Russia, mainly due to the drop of the ruble.

An additional adverse factor for Greek tourism may well be the 80 percent recovery in bookings for Egypt.

There are also some positive factors for tourism in 2015, including the euro decline that has made Greece cheaper as a holiday destination for countries outside the eurozone, which account for some 50 percent all visitors to Greece. Another plus is the drop in global oil rates, which allows for an increase in the number of flights and the creation of cheaper Greek holdiay packages.

Another new element that will affect this year’s tourism numbers is the fear of terrorist attacks, particularly after recent events in France. With the security it offers tourists, Greece could receive a significant number of visitors who want to avoid destinations with an increased risk.

Andreadis also dubbed 2014 the “golden year for Greek tourism, during which the country, with the private sector’s cooperation with the Tourism Ministry, managed to reach figures that the country hadn’t expected to reach until 2017 or 2018.” He further expressed hope that the next government retains tourism as a separate ministerial portfolio.