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Greece Tourism Body Expects Record Arrivals in 2017, Spending Key

Tourists enter a Hop On Hop Off bus for a city tour of Athens last month. Besides a heat wave, August did not present problems that would affect the stay of foreign visitors in Athens. However, this was not the case during the previous months. The latest GBR Consulting report listed obstacles that stand in the way of tourists visiting the Greek capital, such as the “ghettoization” of the historic center and the non-access to archaeological sites, roads, ports and hotels due to continuous blockade operations of Greek unionists.

Tourist arrivals to Greece are expected to increase yet again this year, according to initial forecasts by the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), adding that the decisive factor will be an increase in spending.

Representing more than 50,000 tourism-related businesses across Greece, SETE says data of pre-booked airline seats to regional airports by international tour operators thus far reveals a 19 percent increase, or an additional 3.6 million seats, compared to last year, bringing the total to 22,4 million seats.

According to the Hellenic Slot Coordination Authority (HSCA), Germany, Britain, Italy, Russia and France account for nearly 60 percent of pre-booked seats for the year.

Topping the list are the German and UK markets which appear to have made double the bookings compared to last year, followed closely by  France and Denmark. Indicatively, the number of seats booked by German travelers is up by 46 percent or 1.4 million seats of the 4.4 million and by French holidaymakers up by 48 percent.

SETE underlines that the estimates are indicative of the upcoming trend. The focus of the sector, however, is for the increasing number of tourists to dig deeper into their pockets ensuring higher revenues from tourism. Decreased spending last year – despite the record number of arrivals at 27 million – took a bite out of the sector’s initial estimates.

Read also:  Greek Tourism Minister Calls For United Front

Happening Destinations

According to SETE data, Mykonos, Santorini and Zakynthos will be the year’s hottest destinations. Indicatively, the increase for seats to Mykonos is at 55 percent or 263,000 seats, Santorini is expected to record a 36 percent rise at 224,000 plus seats and Zakynthos a 32 percent increase, or an additional 285,000 seats.

Tourism: The Economic Driver

In the meantime, according to a SETE research institute report released on Wednesday, tourism appears to be the driving force of the Greek economy with more than 90 percent of its revenue coming from abroad. The industry, meanwhile, employs more than 10 percent of the country’s work force during the summer season making it the third biggest employer after retail and the primary sector.


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