Private sector tourism professionals say we are in for a bad year, but the government’s tourism organization insists that we’ll see another increase in arrivals this year. The end result will most likely be somewhere in between.
In the meantime, the Hellenic Tourism Organization criticized the recent study by the Institute for Tourism Research, which is funded by the Greek Hotel Chamber, on the think-tank’s pessimism and its projection of a fall in tourism arrivals.
In its latest tourism study, the institute projected a 3% drop in tourist arrivals this year. The institute’s president, Vassilis Minaidis, said during a press call that the tourism industry already had a foretaste of the trend, with tourist arrivals down by 10 percent in the first five months of the year. Even popular tourist spots like Rodos and Crete were not immune as they reported a 12%-15% fall in the first quarter of the year, he said.
In reply, Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said the institute’s estimation of tourist arrivals this year does not correspond to current market reality because they are based on unsubstantiated and inappropriate statistics.
Statistics released by the Hellenic Tourism Organization show a projected 7% increase, or 800,000 more tourism arrivals to Greece this year. It said that the statistics were based on figures supplied by tour operators and its overseas offices.
Mr. Christodoulakis said bookings for the entire year appear positive. We foresee a general increase in arrivals for the 12 months, even though we posted a decrease in arrivals during the first quarter of the year. “It’s very probable that the institute’s projections are based only on figures in the first three months,” said the minister.
Greece’s tourism organization was similarly optimistic over prospects in arrivals from two of the country’s major markets, Germany and the UK. Up to five percent more German and British tourists are expected while the influx from Italy, Austria, France and Belgium is projected to increase by more than 10%. The largest increase, around 15%, is expected to come from the U.S. The organization said the figures were verified during a recent meeting with its directors abroad and tour operators.
However, the organization reminded that it is somewhat difficult to compare any figures since the final data on arrivals during 2000 have yet to be published by the country’s National Statistical Service.
A rough comparison could be made, based on the general consensus of an increase exceeding 5 percent. Referring to institute’s claim that Athens could see a 10% downturn, and a 3%-5% decrease for Crete and the southern Aegean islands, the state agency said that fewer tourists visiting certain regions were normally offset by a higher influx in other areas.