ECONOMY

Greek hotels see guest numbers drop 10 percent

The country’s hotels saw guest numbers decline 10 percent this year as the country’s economic crisis and violence in Athens deterred tourists, the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels said yesterday. Hotels have cut prices by around 10 percent, choosing to absorb recent increases to value-added tax, according to the Athens-based chamber, which has about 10,000 members. A breakdown of the figures shows the drop-off in tourist numbers in Corfu reaching 10 percent, while some 15 percent fewer people visited Halkidiki in northern Greece. Among the best-performing areas were the islands of Myconos and Kos, which have both so far reported the same number of visitors as last year. Greece must work on a long-term strategy for tourism development, reform existing legislation and exploit the potential for investment to modernize the industry and improve its competitiveness, according to the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels. Greece’s Culture and Tourism Ministry said earlier this month that it is setting up a crisis committee for tourism following a surge in hotel booking cancellations after Athens was wracked by violence during a general strike on May 5, which left three people dead. Tourism accounts for about 16 percent of Greece’s gross domestic product and about one in five jobs. Its performance this summer is seen as playing a crucial role in determining the depth of this year’s recession.