Tourism traffic and revenues are expected to stay the same next year as in 2018, while they may even record a mild decline, according to the head of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos.
Turkey’s rapid recovery as a destination and the UK’s planned departure from the European Union will have an impact on Greek tourism, Retsos explained on Thursday, although he still sees long-term strength in the local industry despite international economic pressures.
The SETE president highlighted that tourism in Greece is completing its sixth consecutive year of growth and that experience has shown that the momentum usually slows after six or seven years.
He also pointed out that “there is a series of unpredictable factors and problems that will play a part in the eventual level of the main tourism statistics.” Even so, he expressed optimism about the sector, although he also said that challenges are growing for entrepreneurs and the state alike.
Retsos expects to have a clearer picture for 2019 at the start of next year, when the first bookings start to come in, particularly from Britain. In any case he anticipates that Greek hotels will need to make their rates more attractive, even though the current levels of taxation – especially value-added tax – do not allow for any significant rate cuts.
However, SETE is in favor of keeping the minimum wage in the sector above the level the financial crisis has imposed on the rest of the economy. Today new employees in tourism earn more than 800 euros per month, Retsos argued, while stressing that employers who think otherwise should take into consideration that they have had at least six positive seasons to adjust their financial affairs. He underscored that this position is necessary because the good services that the sector demands cannot be provided by badly paid employees.
He also estimated that 2018 will end with a total of some 33 million foreign tourists, about 16 billion euros in direct revenues, and with direct employment accounting for 17 percent of the country’s jobs.