ECONOMY

Greek tourism expecting a strong surge

Incoming tourism to Greece is expected to rise by 8 percent this year, while foreign currency inflows are forecast to grow even faster, according to a survey by the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) published yesterday. This estimate is based on seven reasons: concerning global economic growth; the improvement of the financial prospects of the eurozone; the increased promotion of the country; the focus of tourism policy toward emerging European markets; the maintenance of the same prices in accommodation; the apparent rebound of the US market and a diminished threat of terrorist attacks. Conservative calculations by ITEP suggest that in the 2000-2004 period, when tourism declined mainly due to decisions by the tourism leadership of the time, the drop in tourism currency influx exceeded 2 billion euros. Between 2000 and 2004, on average, the number of tourism arrivals remained practically the same, but with a clear decline in nights per arrival. This is reflected in the incoming foreign currency, which shrunk from 10,061 million euros in 2000 to 9,495 million euros in 2003. The great rise in 2004 is only linked to the higher prices in Athens due to the Olympic Games. ITEP notes that 2005 could be considered the starting point for a new increasing and profitable course for tourism and general economic growth. This is mostly attributed to «the unprecedented mobilization of tourism’s political leadership through advertising and other similar means of promoting the country.» Domestic tourism has gained new momentum, the report stresses, adding that «tourism policy has included domestic tourism, too, in its advertising campaign with an unprecedented, by Greek standards, television promotion. The ‘We Live in Greece’ program is considered highly successful. Although there is no statistical data to assess the impact of this program, the feedback from the hotel community is more than positive. It appears to have generated greater domestic tourism interest, diverting quite a considerable portion of potential holiday-makers from spending their vacations abroad,» the ITEP survey concludes.