ECONOMY

American tourists are Greece’s best customers, spending more time and money here than others

Foreign tourists stay in Greece 12 days on average and spend 464 euros per person excluding transport and accommodation costs, a survey by the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) for 2001 and 2002 has found, while one in five tourists admit they come to Greece with flirting and sex in mind. The total cost of the average trip came to 1,277 euros, with 813 euros paid in the country of origin and the rest in Greece. In real 2001 prices, tourism revenues declined by 1.2 percent yearly in 2002, with spending in the country of origin rising by 6.48 percent while dropping significantly (-13.18 percent) in Greece. Americans spend more than any other nationality as their expenditure is more than double the average, which is also due to the fact that they stay 5.5 days more in Greece; about 17.8 days. The average daily payment here comes to 55 euros for Americans, 42 euros for Britons, 39 for the French, 36 for Italians and 25 for Germans. The average spending per day for all foreign tourists is 38 euros. This variation is down to the way each trip is organized, i. e. the portion of tourism services paid for in the country of origin. With this added in, US tourists pay the highest (138 euros per day), while Germans pay the lowest (79 euros per day). The average figure stands at 104 euros per day. The survey also found great variations in tourism spending depending on the region of Greece. Athens is the costliest destination (654 euros, or 1,104 euros including money spent in country of origin) but has the second-highest staying time (13.3 days). This pattern is repeated in Thessaloniki, but with less spending in the country of origin, as most visitors come from neighboring countries and spend less on their trip. The high expenditure in the main cities is due to greater opportunities for shopping and entertainment. The cost of trips to the Cyclades is as high as in Athens, but most of this money is paid in the country of origin. In Halkidiki and Crete payment in the region is lower than the Greek average. A significant conclusion is that organized trips bring costs down by 7.91 percent. The question is how much of the payment made in the country of origin actually finds its way to Greece. This is a complex issue as even some of the money spent here could eventually go abroad, for instance when tourists consume food and wine that come from other countries. About 87 percent of tourists in 2001 and 77 percent in 2002 had paid for their trips and accommodation at home, while more than half had also paid for two daily meals. Of the seven categories of payment made directly in Greece, food away from the accommodation took 31.06 percent or 138 euros per arrival, followed by the accommodation purchased by tourists directly in Greece (23.48 percent or 104 euros per arrival). Shopping took a 17.34 percent share, entertainment and site visits came away with 14.56 percent, local transport netted 7.09 percent, car rental and use amounted to 3.13 percent while the remaining 3.35 percent went to other payment categories. Foreign boats double The number of foreign recreational boats arriving in Greek ports and marinas has more than doubled this year. Data collected by the sector’s professional bodies and submitted to the Ministry of Tourism Development, show that from May to end-August there were 1,101 arrivals recorded from abroad, against just 433 in 2004 over the same period. The greatest rises, reaching up to 300 percent, were marked in Myconos and Cephalonia and then in Rhodes and Piraeus. Deputy Tourism Development Minister Anastassios Liaskos stated that yachting is having one of the most impressive seasons of the last 20 years in 2005, and noted the ministry’s will for the strengthening of sea tourism as it is one of the most important versions of themed tourism to be developed in the years to come. In cooperation with the Economy and Merchant Marine ministries, Liaskos added, measures will be promoted to boost boat traffic further and render recreational boats’ mooring in Greek marinas more attractive, while special incentives will be given for foreign boats to spend the winter in marinas here.