ECONOMY

Tourism still continuing to rise

Greek tourism is set for a significant rise for a third straight year, despite similar projections for a number of Mediterranean competitors and the unfavorable euro/US dollar parity, industry officials said yesterday. Arrivals are projected to rise 6 percent in 2007, bringing the total increase since 2004 to 24 percent, Stavros Andreadis, president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), told a press briefing. The rise for the year as a whole is projected on the basis of arrivals at 12 of the country’s airports, representing 93 percent of arrivals by air and 74 percent of the total in the first half of the year (January-June). «The continuing boom creates the right conditions for the solution of chronic problems in the sector,» said Andreadis. He said Spain is projected to have no change, Cyprus looks like it will have a decline, while Turkey, Croatia and Egypt are seen as racking up considerable increases. Andreadis said Turkey’s projected rise was encouraging in the sense that it does not appear to have dented demand for Greek holidays, despite the continuing rise in the value of the euro. «Developments regarding the parity confirm our position that price does not exclusively influence choice of a holiday destination, but the value for the money,» he said. Rise in euro a factor Andreadis said the decline in spending per visiting tourist from -813 in 2000 to -788 last year was chiefly due to a fall in the average length of stay – a world trend. It may be argued, however, that the rise in the value of the euro has been a more important factor. Andreadis expressed concern for the absence of meaningful dialogue to date on zoning plans for tourism development. «We are categorically against unchecked development and attempts to do away with zoning plans. SETE considers that on a number of issues, such as the distance of buildings from the sea and number of beds per acre, which have a general application throughout the country, we need to provide individual treatment, according to the case. «The Special Zoning Plan for Tourism, unveiled by the government in the spring, must not be allowed to become a tool of real estate, nor a bureaucratic brake on the development of tourism. It primarily has to be a tool for development, protecting above all the environment,» he said. The European Union’s statistics service (Eurostat) said yesterday Greece’s net income from tourism in 2005 was -8.59 billion, against Spain’s -26.37 billion, Italy’s -10.44 and France’s 8.91 billion. Tourism accounted for 40 percent of the country’s export of services. In Spain and Portugal this exceeds 50 percent.