Decline in EU tourists

A quick look at last year’s tourist arrival figures – released by the National Statistics Service (NSS) last week – shows that Greece remained one of the top destinations for tourists in 2001. Tourist arrivals last year rose by 8 percent to 14.6 million, with Albanians for the first time numbering more than a million. The NSS did not publicize figures of tourist arrivals by nationality. Nevertheless, it is easy to check out the data, especially for tourists traveling to Greece by road. There was a 33-percent jump in the number of Albanians entering Greece last year by car or rail. Both 2000 and 2001 could be considered well-balanced years for Greece, characterized by the substantial discounts and offers provided by businesses in order to maintain the inflow of tourists at the same level. While tourist arrivals from the European Union increased by 2.9 percent, overnight stays in hotels were down by 0.13 percent, according to statistics from 13 regions. Another worrying trend was the decline in the number of tourists from the EU as a percentage of total arrivals, which fell to 67.6 percent last year from 70.4 percent in 2000. Excluding tourists from Albania and others from the north who could be characterized as economic migrants, the number of tourists coming to Greece last year amounted to 12.5 million – 13 million. The forecast is that this year, the situation is expected to remain unchanged. Some 717,000 Albanian tourists came to Greece in 2000, a figure which increased by 40 percent to exceed 1 million last year. In recent years, the number of Albanian tourists has gone up significantly. In 1996, this amounted to 191,619, rising by 56 percent to 298,843 in the following year. In 1998, this reached 586,182, nearly double than the previous year. A 14.8-percent increase to 673,061 was recorded in 1999. If this trend continues, Albanian tourists could account for 10 percent of total tourist arrivals this year. Lukewarm support for pact