Worrying signs for tourism

Unless the government comes to some sort of agreement with the country’s creditors and is able to put an end to the economic uncertainty, Greek tourism’s positive course in terms of foreign arrivals is at risk of reversal.

The first few months of the year saw strong growth in the tourism flow to Greece as the momentum generated last year continued into 2015. However the initial rise recorded in bookings for this coming summer from key markets such as Germany has now declined to zero and interest has moved to rival destinations that had been showing a smaller growth rate at the start of the year.

The country’s tourism professionals attribute this swing to the unstable economic environment. Data from German firm TravelTainment indicate that the two biggest losers from the German market in terms of bookings in March were Greece and Tunisia, while Turkey, Spain and Egypt posted a remarkable rebound.

Arrivals from abroad at Greek airports amounted to 1.19 million in the first quarter of the year, rising 22.3 percent from the same period last year, Civil Aviation Authority figures showed.

Domestic arrivals expanded 37.1 percent to reach 1.28 million in the same period. In the first four months of the year Athens International Airport experienced a 20.7 percent year-on-year increase in international incoming traffic, while domestic traffic rose 30.5 percent.

In contrast, foreign visitors to Cyprus increased 16.2 percent in the first quarter of the year to come to 189,988, including a 22.4 percent increase in arrivals from Greece, which totaled 24,124. At the same time, Spain recorded 5.3 percent growth in visitors from abroad to exceed 10.6 million, while Turkey saw a 4.1 percent expansion in foreign arrivals in the year to end-March, reaching 4.53 million. Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry data also showed that visitors from Greece declined 12 percent on an annual basis to 150,491.

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