ECONOMY

Ten key points for 2009 tourism

Greek tourism is entering a particularly difficult period due to the global economic crisis and the problems the sector is facing. Kathimerini asked the president of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers, Andreas Andreadis, to define the 10 key issues that tourism must deal with ahead of the 2009 season. «This year has developed into a difficult, but not disastrous, one. Of course, we shouldn’t overlook the positive course of tourism over the last four years, nor that the hotel product has proven its durability in tough periods in the past,» says Andreadis. He warned that things may take another turn for the worse in 2009 if the following factors are not taken into account and solutions are not found to problems affecting tourism: – Competitiveness: The single property tax and other fees and the rise in the cost of money have hurt the competitiveness of Greek hotels. – Charter flights: The shrinking of the number of charter flights by tour operators is bad news for local tourism. – Cash flow reduction: The drop in prepayments and the halt of other payments due to companies going bust. – Internal tourism: Negative economic conditions are forcing more people to reduce or even cancel their vacations. – Britain-Germany: The rise in traffic from Eastern Europe is not able to offset in absolute figures the likely fall from the two traditional biggest markets. – USA: It is certain that tourism abroad will be hurt by the structural problems in the US. – Hard euro: The exchange rate of the common currency compared with that of rival destinations outside the eurozone is turning more people away – a problem that is aggravated by the continuing international crisis. – Institutional reforms: The star ranking of hotels, the closure of hotels in areas outside town planning zones, the zoning plan for tourism etc are still outstanding. – Local authorities: The role they play in tourism development remains low. – Tourism promotion: Advertising abroad must increase toward creating a brand name per destination.