Record drop in tourism takings in August


August saw a major decline in tourism revenues, which dropped 9.2 percent on an annual basis, according to data released on Friday by the Bank of Greece. This has brought the losses for the economy in the first eight months of 2016 to 750 million euros year-on-year.

The percentage of the decline this past August is the worst seen this decade for what is traditionally the year’s biggest month in terms of tourism, as after the 5.5 percent contraction seen in 2010, each year had shown an increase in revenues for the month on an annual basis. With the exception of March, all months this year have shown a year-on-year decline, with the biggest drops noted in May and August.

The data from the central bank showed that travel receipts in January-August were down 7.1 percent from the same period in 2015, amounting to 9.85 billion euros, which is a record decline for the first eight months of the year. In August alone takings came to 3.16 billion euros.

Tourism associations in Greece had warned about the slide in takings, stressing that the “cheap tourism” that has arrived in this country in the last three months has mainly been due to the problems being faced by neighboring Turkey.

The refugee crisis and geopolitical developments in the broader region have had a major impact on Greek tourism, while the United Kingdom’s decision to secede from the European Union has been an additional negative factor. In July, the first month after the Brexit referendum, the decline in the spending of British tourists in Greece exceeded 35 percent year-on-year, while up until then the Brits had been one of the most dynamic groups.

The recorded increase in international arrivals so far in the second half of this year is being largely attributed to the reduced prices that Greek hoteliers have been forced to offer foreign markets in order to bolster tourism traffic.

It is noted that the best years in terms of tourism revenue growth for the country in the first eight months, as well as in August alone, were 2013 and 2014, according to official figures.