Both private and public sector tourism leaders predict that final tourism arrival figures for this year would show a double-digit increase over last year.
According to the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasts, July has seen an 8.9 percent annual rise in foreign tourist arrivals in the country’s 11 major airports. In late May the World Travel and Tourism Council had predicted an 11.6 percent rise in Greek tourism this year.
Figures appear to vindicate the more optimistic analysts. Tourism leaders say the increase reflects the success of organizing the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and the intensive tourism advertising campaign abroad launched by government last fall.
Others added that bad luck by some competing countries also played a role.
They remind, as well, that foreign visitors’ spending per capita in Greece (in constant prices) has dropped by 13.8 percent at the same time when travel in Greece has become more expensive by 6.5 percent. They stressed, however, that strong advertising spending must not only continue but also must increase substantially so as tourist arrivals can continue to rise at a healthy rate.
All the necessary conditions are present, they said. First, most cities and in particular Athens can take advantage of the upgraded infrastructure, which is the legacy of the Olympic Games. And that infra-structure projects have upgraded Greece’s hotels and tourism resorts, and has clearly enhanced the country’s appeal to foreigners.
They say it is now up to us to improve the quality of services so that tourists are tempted to spend more, and for us to achieve sustainable tourism develop-ment, and remind that tourism revenues get distributed among a large number of businesses, many of which are small and medium-sized.