ECONOMY

Tourism is ailing, private institute’s report alleges

Greece’s tourism sector continued to fall further behind the pack of foreign competititors for the first nine-month period of the current year, indicated a report published by privately sponsored ITEP, the Tourism Research and Forecasts Institute. According to the institute’s report, released yesterday, the domestic tourism sector posted a declining growth rate, as has been the case in recent years. Greece’s sector has once again failed to keep up with international tourism trends, was being outperformed by neighboring competition in the Mediterranean, and the growth rate figure was below the European average, the report noted. Tourism-generated foreign exchange entering the country fell by 10 percent this year, while competitors, also operating under adverse conditions, had registered mildly improved figures, the report indicated. Greece’s 10 percent drop in foreign exchange was prompted by a far smaller 2 percent decline in tourists entering the country. This discrepancy, the institute’s report noted, can be attributed to the combined effect of the small reduction in tourists, an acute drop in overnight stays at hotels, and a steep fall in accommodation rates charged. These trends suggest that Greek tourism is attracting economy-minded travelers, the report contended. The institute criticized the government, describing it as «a viewer from a distance,» while warning that the cost of declining tourism would be «unbearable for the Greek economy.» The tourism sector’s performance varied from region to region. Some of the country’s major tourism destinations, Crete, Rhodes, Halkidiki, Thessaloniki and Corfu, all registered declines. Thessaloniki’s was limited to 1.3 percent, while Corfu’s drop measured 4. 3 percent. Only one destination, the provincial city of Kalamata in southern Greece, not a major tourism attraction, registered improved figures. The institute’s report underlined that neighboring competitors had all registered improved figures – for varying time periods – this year. Croatia’s tourism sector grew by 6.4 percent between January and August; Turkey’s posted a 2.8 percent increase during the first nine months; Portugal registered a modest 1.8 percent increase between January and July; and Spain’s sector grew by a marginal 0.5 percent for the same period.