Course of tourism remains unclear

It is not clear yet how this tourism season will shape up in Greece, the president of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) said yesterday. Speaking at a press conference, Stavros Andreadis said that although arrivals remain at the same levels as last year, this should not be seen as failure following three consecutive years of growth. He did note, though, that the permanent structural problems of the Greek tourism product are putting at risk any advantage gained by Greece with the successful staging of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The main indices of tourism activity are already showing a slowdown. There has been a drop in the growth rate of arrivals (from 9.64 percent higher in 2005 to 5.49 percent in 2007), a greater drop in the growth rate of revenues and a reduction in average per capita spending by tourists (from 854 euros in 2004 to 748 euros in 2007). Shares from the main five markets of Greek tourism (the UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands) have shrunk from 2000 to 2006 by about 6 percent, while penetration into new markets has not yet reached the desired level in terms of both quality and quantity. Andreadis made special reference to external factors that may negatively affect the competitiveness of the country’s tourism product. Signs of a deep slowdown of the global economy, whose duration cannot be forecast, are creating an atmosphere of worry and insecurity. He did not rule out the possibility that many eurozone citizens, who comprise most of the country’s tourists, will turn to destinations outside Europe. He estimated that international tourism traffic this year will also be affected by the European soccer championship in Austria and Switzerland in June as well as the Beijing Olympic Games in August. SETE fully supports the demand by the hoteliers’ association for the replacement of various levies with a single profession tax to be imposed on all enterprises that are directly or indirectly involved in tourism.

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