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21.5 million tourists bring 13.5 billion euro in revenue

08 September 2014 / 17:09:17  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The positive forecasts for Greek tourism have been subjected to a lot of negative criticism and various industry representatives continue to question them. The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises SETE however defines 2014 as a record for tourism and the data on the tourist inflow in August have even forced the experts to revise the organization's objectives for the year. In particular, in the peak season, the number of tourist arrivals in Greece increased by 13.6% compared to August 2013 whereas in the period from January to August the increase was 15.8% compared to the same period last year.

"At the beginning of the year we announced that we expected 19 million foreign visitors but now we are talking about 19.5 million tourists who arrive by air. If we add to them the tourists arriving on cruise ships and those arriving by land the total number of tourists reaches 21.5 million. This is a record number for Greece and we expect the revenue to amount to 13.5 billion euro compared to the 13 billion euro that we expected at the beginning of the year," Communications and Public Relations Manager of the Association Xenophon Petropoulos told GRReporter.

SETE claims that Greek tourism will further develop in the coming years since the number of 21.5 million tourists achieved this year is set in the objectives for 2019. The road map of the Association for 2021 forecasts 24 million foreign visitors.

According to Petropoulos, the good results are due to the fact that Greece has achieved political stability after the tumultuous political and economic events in 2010-2012. "It is over with all the speculations about Greece’s possible exit from the euro zone. At the same time, tourism companies have maintained the service quality and prices at the 2009 level, which means that our prices are very reasonable compared to those offered by our competitors. We also have this combination of quality features including the sun, sea, hospitality and beauty of the landscape that have made Greece an extremely popular tourist destination. This change in the internal environment combined with the gradual emergence from the crisis is bringing tourists back here."

Contrary to many expectations, the Association indicates that the Arab Spring conflicts in the Mediterranean region had insignificantly influenced the increase of tourism influx to Greece. "The destabilization in the region played a role in this but in no case was it a leading factor. It certainly had contributed but here I would like to emphasize that, for us, it is important that the region is calm and the surrounding counties enjoy stability. We believe that we will gain more if the situation in all countries is normal than if Greece is an "oasis" among countries with political and economic problems or conflicts."

The bankruptcy announced today by another Russian tour operator does not surprise the Association the chairman of which, Andreas Andreadis, stated a month ago that the probability of new bankruptcies in the Russian tourist market was great.

"Both in the early summer and now, when other tour operators are going bankrupt, the priority of the Greek tourism companies should be to serve the Russian tourists who are in the country until their return to Russia," is the position of SETE.

The Association believes that the bankruptcies are due to the consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, adding that they noticed signs of this phenomenon even at the end of last year. "We could say that, in recent years, the Russian tourist market had been excessively inflated. I mean that a large number of travel agencies were established that did not have the necessary bank guarantees to cover emergencies such as these."

SETE management is of the opinion that the bankruptcies will consolidate the market thus leaving on it only those companies that are properly functioning. "The Russian market continues to be very important for the Greek tourism industry and I think that by 2021 we will be able to reach 2.5 million visitors from Russia and Ukraine," said Petropoulos.
So far, the damage of the Greek tourist companies due to the bankruptcy of Russian tour operators has amounted to 300 million euro but the losses will be covered by other markets since 2014 is a record year in terms of visitors and revenue.

Tags: EconomyMarketsAssociation of Greek Tourism EnterprisesTouristsRussion tour operatorsBankruptcies
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