ECONOMY

Suddenly, demand is testing the capacity of Greek tourism

The number of tourist arrivals in Greece over the last 10 days has shown an impressive rise. This is expected to continue until the end of August, resulting in a large number of hotels being unable to absorb the demand, Yiannis Evangelou, the president of the Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agents (HATTA), told Kathimerini. The interest shown in Greece is the strongest in the last few years, Evangelou said. The latest data shows Greece and Spain profiting most from last-minute bookings. As a result, many hotels at major holiday destinations, such as Crete and Rhodes, are now fully booked, with smaller hotel units now appearing to benefit more from the increase in demand, although at the beginning of the tourism season (April-May) booking rates had seemed subdued. According to major travel agencies, the UK market is displaying a strong trend toward visiting Greece, while other countries, such as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and France, are also recording significant increases. Also positive is the picture for Italian tourists, who mostly take their holidays in August. Italian market sources estimate that the rise in tourists could even exceed 10 percent year-on-year, although it may be too early to tell before the month’s end, as Italians prefer to travel individually rather than in groups. Industry operators point out that Greece is enjoying the strong advantage of being considered one of the safest destinations at a time when terrorism is on everyone’s mind. Domestic tourism is also on the rise, with the existing coastal shipping services not being able to cope with the demand for some island destinations. For the first time in years, bookings at hotels on Aegean islands are often being canceled for lack of sufficient ferry services this summer. Greeks prefer to holiday at home more than other nationalities, even if the prices abroad are more attractive. It will soon be seen whether recent terrorist activities and international uncertainty will further reduce the number of Greeks visiting other countries for recreational purposes.