Tourism arrivals from abroad grew 1.9 percent last month from a year earlier, according to figures processed by the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE).
The number of international air arrivals came to 272,243 in the year’s first month, with incoming traffic at Athens International Airport rising 5.1 percent year-on-year to 196,000. By contrast, Thessaloniki’s Makedonia Airport posted a 5.6 percent yearly decline to 73,335 passengers, and Hania Airport on Crete recorded a 4.9 percent drop compared to January 2015.
These figures illustrate Greece’s ongoing difficulty in attracting large numbers of holidaymakers in the winter period despite the major problems – mainly security-related – that rival destinations are facing.
The migration issue has also had a negative impact on summer bookings from certain key markets to some of the most popular tourism destinations in the Aegean, such as the island of Kos.
Following recent demonstrations against the creation of “hot spots,” or migrant registration centers, and the fears voiced by protesters concerning the impact on tourism, the Federation of Hellenic Associations of Tourism and Travel Agencies (FEDHATTA) issued a call to the government for the swift completion of the hot spot infrastructure.
The federation argued that the country needs organized structures for the immediate forwarding of refugees and migrants, and as the tourism season draws near the positive image the country has abroad has to be preserved so as not to affect the flow of incoming tourism traffic.
The travel agents also note that tourism constitutes the most direct and productive sector of the local economy and has to be safeguarded by the state, professionals and Greek society in flawless coordination. In this context FEDHATTA says the message that should be broadcast abroad is “Our country is safe and stands out for its hospitality and culture.”