The tourism sector is showing genuine signs of growth this year that suggest it will be the main driver of the Greek recovery, as it will help state revenues, the private economy, the country’s current accounts and employment. The government is for the first time speaking of 30 million arrivals in 2017.
Bank of Greece data show that in the first four months of the year travel receipts increased by 2.4 percent or 23 million euros year-on-year, reaching 997 million euros. This increase was thanks to the 3.2 percent rise in arrivals and not average spending per trip, which posted a 0.8 percent decline. This means the 4.8 percent drop in travel receipts during the first quarter was offset in April, when arrivals rose 12 percent and receipts 11.3 percent annually. This positive picture is expected to have continued in May.
Retail sector representatives are looking forward to cashing in on the increase in arrivals, to offset the losses resulting from Greek households’ ever shrinking disposable incomes. Based on the bookings picture, turnover in retail commerce could rise by up to 5 percent this year.
Addressing a conference organized by the Panhellenic Exporters Federation, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said that the data of the first five months point to an increase in arrivals, revenues, nights stayed and occupancy rates. They also show an increase in bookings for the summer ranging between 15 and 70 percent, depending on area, which led to her conclusion that Greece will have more then 30 million tourists this year after welcoming 28 million in 2016 and 26 million in 2015.
The growth in tourism is also reflected in employment and commerce. The number of unemployed registered with the Manpower Organization (OAED) last month dropped by 56,820 people from April to 913,518, mainly thanks to the rise in seasonal employment in tourism and commerce.
In May seven out of 10 new jobs were in the tourism sector, the Ergani hirings database of the Labor Ministry shows: Of the 89,534 new jobs in tourism, 42,871 concerned the accommodation sector, 19,952 were in food service and 2,389 in leasing and renting activities.