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Despite the crisis, Greece expects a successful tourist season

27 December 2015 / 17:12:56  GRReporter
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So far bookings for the 2016 season at the major overseas markets are trending upward. This fact causes some cautious optimism among Greek hoteliers regarding their sector's performance next year. The upward trend has been driven by factors like the increasing number of summer flights to Greece with 800,000 between major airways, falling oil prices and the euro getting cheaper vis-a-vis other major currencies such as the US dollar and the British pound.

The increased number of terrorist attacks in the world will turn security of tourist destinations into a major factor. Greece might end up as winner at the expense of some markets, but might also bleed tourists to destinations outside Europe.

Financial and political stability of the country will be another key instrument in sustaining the growth of Greek tourism. Something that might undercut Greek competitiveness is the increase of VAT on hotels and restaurants. The inflow of refugees and migrants might be another setback for Greek tourism trends. According to the president of the Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers, Yannis Retsos, forecasts for Greek tourism look positive for the time being.

 

Greece enjoys a brisk demand in Germany as a destination, with tourist operators demanding an increased number of summer flights to various locations in Greece. Safer bets about the dynamics of demand from Germany will be possible after the ΙΤΒ international tourist exhibition taking place between 9 and 13 March in Berlin.

As regards the UK, the second most important market for Greek tourism, the pound's rising against the euro will encourage Brits to come to Greece. Their number is expected to rise next summer.

It is still early days to assess French bookings for Greece because of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. The expectation is that in 2016 a significant number of French tourists will choose Greece for their holidays.

Security and the dollar

The security-in-Europe factor will play a major role for Americans choosing their vacation destination in 2016. The strong dollar is an important financial incentive to opt for Europe, but any serious security threats will relegate it to a (distant) second place.

The prospects for more Russian tourists are looking good after the falling out between Russia and Turkey. Greece could definitely do with as big a chunk as possible of the 3.5 million Russian tourists who were vacationing in Turkey last summer. In order to ease the Russian inflow, the Greek consular authorities need to respond promptly to the new requirements for visas with biometric data. Otherwise, Russian tourists might opt for other destinations, such as Spain.

 

Bookings from the Nordic markets, which traditionally have a strong presence in Greece, are going up. The third tourist exhibition devoted to Greece – Grekland Panorama, to be held from 12 to 14 February in Stockholm – will give a clearer outline to the picture.

Turkey has been another strong constituent of Greek tourism in recent years. The likely cancellation of the requisite European visas for the Turks might turn them into one of the most dynamic customer groups for Greece.

Another factor worth noting is the important role car journeys to Greece played in last season's record performance. This mostly goes for northern Greece. Visitors arriving by car from Turkey and other Balkan countries, such as Bulgaria and Macedonia, might well increase if infrastructure issues are addressed and border checkpoints are more adequately manned.

Tags: tourist season Greece outlook positive development
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