ECONOMY

Tourism recovery in 2003?

Tourism is going through a difficult phase, with the global economic slowdown and fear of terrorist attacks contributing to a stagnation and even a drop in the number of foreign visitors to Greece. The annual study by the Studies and Investment Division of Greece’s National Tourism Organization (GNTO) show a small decline in foreign visitors – about 2-5 percent – through the first three quarters of the year. Since most of this year’s visitors to Greece tended to stay fewer days than in past years, the losses for hotels and other lodging establishments will also be bigger. Some of this drop was compensated for by domestic tourism, but at a price: In order to attract a domestic clientele, hotels offered substantial discounts. Are there any prospects for a recovery in 2003? The report emphasizes the uncertainty dominating the international scene, with the USA threatening to invade Iraq, a likely rise in oil prices and the recent terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia. It is also quite unlikely that countries such as the USA and Germany will recover significantly. The eight decisive factors that will determine a recovery in the tourism sector, according to the GNTO report, are: the speed at which the global economy will recover; the effects of a likely oil crisis on western economies; political and security developments in locations such as the Middle East; the ability of the domestic tourism sector to react and flexibly adapt to the new situation and increasing competition from countries such as Turkey; the effectiveness of public and private publicity campaigns abroad; the effectiveness of the publicity surrounding the 2004 Athens Olympics; the offer of new, specialized products and the opening up of new markets through advertising campaigns.