Study sees 7 pct tourism rise

The growth of tourism in Greece is expected to break last year’s record and reach 6-7 percent, according to the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecast (ITEP). The estimate is actually a conservative one, said ITEP, compared with forecasts by tourism professionals, who are even more optimistic about the course of Greek tourism in 2007. This optimism is based on a variety of reasons: * The upgrade of general infrastructure and the broader recognizability of Greece as a destination, thanks to the 2004 Olympic Games, and the satisfactory level of promotion and advertising globally. * The effort to attract tourists from Eastern Europe is bearing fruit and will be the new pillar for the further growth of tourism, as well as the markets of Germany and the UK. * Retaining accommodation prices at low levels, combined with stopping the decline of non-hotel services are improving the competitiveness of the Greek product. * The considerable increase in traffic from the USA. Spending per night by American tourists is high, as is their nights per arrival rate. ITEP also highlighted the increase in domestic tourism and in arrivals at business-connected accommodation. Tourism professionals gave a mixed reaction to the government’s proposal for a new tourism zoning plan that could attract major investment to the sector. President of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels Gerasimos Fokas said that the new plan was made public without the least consultation with the bodies concerned. He added that a large part of the plan, if not most of it, concerns organizing the operation of the tourism sector and is not about organizing the land. It follows wrong definitions and divisions of «sectors» of tourism, as those mentioned do not correspond to the reality of the constantly evolving international tourism market, said Fokas. On the other hand, the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) noted that the plan could spectacularly expand the development prospects of Greek tourism. It praised the tackling of the issue of demolishing or withdrawing old tourism installations, as well as the controlled development proposals for sensitive areas. However SETE, too, called for consultation with the bodies directly involved in tourism.