Tourism slump slashes 19,000 jobs

The number of visitor arrivals in Greece in the first six months of the year fell nearly 10 percent on an annual basis, resulting in job losses of more than 19,000 positions, data showed yesterday. The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) said 3.9 million people arrived in Greece in the January-to-June period via the country’s largest airports, versus 4.3 million in the same period a year earlier. «On an income level, it is certain the percentage change will be larger, given that discounts not only continued in June but will also be offered for the remaining summer months,» SETE said in a statement. Tourism accounts for about 18 percent of the country’s annual economic output and for one in five jobs. The biggest drops regarding percentage were seen on the islands of Cephalonia and Chios, where arrivals fell by 22 and 26 percent respectively. The best performance was on Rhodes, which showed just a 4.7 percent drop in visitor numbers. «As a mature tourism market, we should not be celebrating the avoidance of catastrophic scenarios but focusing on the structural problems the sector needs to handle that are highlighted during times of economic crisis,» SETE added. Industry sources had forecast at the start of the year an annual drop in visitors of 15 to 20 percent this year.