ECONOMY

Hotel investments miss the mark

Greece needs to make changes to the investment incentives offered in the tourism sector, as the total number of hotel rooms outstrips current demand levels by 184 percent, according to a research group. The Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasting (ITEP) said yesterday that hotel rooms on offer in Greece are generally under-used, without taking into account rooms that are available for rent. Rooms at summer holiday destinations are more «productive,» as too is accommodation in districts that draw visitors all year round, such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Kos, and Heraklion, ITEP said in the study. The current policy aimed at boosting investment in hotel rooms has inevitably resulted in inefficiency as well as a waste of resources, ITEP added. Greece’s tourism industry accounts for about 20 percent of the country’s total annual economic output, estimated to reach 246 billion euros this year. The sector, which each year attracts some 14 million visitors to the country, has not escaped the impacts of the global economic slowdown. In the first nine months of the year, tourism business revenues dropped by around 4 percent, event though the number of incoming visitors remained unchanged from last year’s levels. According to the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE), tourists driving into Greece from Bulgaria and Romania have helped offset a small drop in visitors flying into the country in the January-August period. Among the recommendations put forward by ITEP is the need for a more rational geographical spread of hotel rooms on offer, particularly in the provinces, based on demand levels, existing infrastructure, as well as natural and human resources. There also needs to be a qualitative upgrade of available rooms, as the accommodation offered in some areas completely lacks any four- or five-star hotels.