ECONOMY

Tourism to continue rising

Another good year for tourism is coming, predicts the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) for 2006, having followed the increased influx of foreign visitors this year. However, ITEP warns that the effects on the industry of any possible bird flu pandemic remain unknown. Recent data show the rise in foreigner arrivals may exceed 6 percent for 2005, ITEP announced. In a report published yesterday, it attributes the increase in tourism to «the unprecedented effort by the state to regain some of the lost ground in the tourism sector, an effort that was not restricted to incoming tourism but included bolstering domestic tourism.» The rise in 2005 was not uniform, however. While Athens and Thessaloniki enjoyed healthy increases in visitors, with Athens airport arrivals rising in January-October by 9.1 percent annually, other regions have posted a decline. Corfu’s tourism may have risen by 3.3 percent but that of Cephalonia and Zakynthos fell by 7.4 percent and 5.1 percent respectively in the same period. Visitors to Samos and Lesvos also declined by 16.9 percent and 4.7 percent respectively. Tourism to Rhodes and Hania rose by 4.3 percent, as did that of Iraklion, Crete, by 6.3 percent, but Kos lost 3.2 percent of its arrivals. All rival Mediterranean destinations have also enjoyed a rise, ranging from 2.5 percent (France) to 23 percent (Turkey). The forecast that next year’s rise will exceed this year’s is based on a number of factors, including global growth – particularly that of Germany, a key market for Greek tourism – the impact of terrorism, the state’s recent ad campaign, greater demand from Eastern European states, more competitive accommodation rates and a likely rise in US interest rates which would strengthen the dollar.