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Greece To Welcome 17 Million Tourists By 2020

Greece’s tourism sector remains the country’s strongest economic leg, but according to the World Tourism Organization the sector will grow at a much slower rate in the next two decades and lose ground in favor of its neighbors.

In its recent Tourism Vision 2020 report, the organization says that while Greece will continue to be a popular spot among tourists, it is definitely losing its allure both as a Mediterranean and Balkan destination. Part of the reason is the increasingly sophisticated strategies adopted by rival countries to attract tourists, and another is tourists’ growing preference for cheaper markets.

In a comparison study between Greece and its Balkan competitors, the report expects Greece see a slowdown in the next two decades. The country could end up with a significant loss of market share, down to 2.4 percent by 2020 from 3 percent in 1995.

Overall, the WTO report says that it expects Greece to welcome some 14.3 million tourists by 2010, and 17.1 million arrivals at the end of the next decade. International tourism arrivals are projected to grow at an annual rate of 2 percent in the period 2000-2010, which will, however, decline to 1.8 percent annually in the next decade.

Greece is forecast to see fewer tourists coming from markets such as Italy, Switzerland and Sweden, but tourism arrivals from traditional sources such as Germany, the UK, France, Denmark and the Netherlands are projected to remain unchanged.

The WTO report attributed the shift in tourism patterns to various strategies adopted by different countries’ national tourism boards to attract tourists. Egypt, for example, has done away with visa requirements, landing fees for charter flights and harbor charges for cruise ships.

(“Tourism 2020 Vision” is available in English and Spanish. It’s a six-volume worldwide survey, which is based on statistics and forecasts gathered from WTO member countries and interviews with more than 75 tourism visionaries about the future of the industry. Each volume can be purchased for US$125 and the entire set is available for US$625.)

In a separate study, the World Travel & Tourism Council‘s 2001 Economic Forecast says travel and tourism demand to Greece is expected to grow by 2.3% annually, in real terms, between 2001 and 2011. That’s very close to the 2.4% figure forecast by the tourism organization’s study. The council’s study, however, concentrated more on the positive benefits the sector has for the Greek economy.

It says that travel and tourism is expected to generate some 10.8 trillion drachmas of economic activity this year and some 16.8 trillion by 2011. That works out to a contribution of 5.8% of gross domestic product in 2001 and 2011. In the same period, the travel and tourism is expected to generate 38.7% and 33.8% of total exports.

As far as employment is concerned, the sector’s overall economy now employs 19.7% of total jobs, or one in every 5.1. By 2011, it will cover 19.1% of all jobs or one in every 5.2.  The industry itself now employs 6.9% of total employment and will employ 6.5% in 2011, says the study. On a general scale, WTTC research estimates the travel and tourism economy generates 10.8% of gross domestic product and 8% of employment across the world. Over the next ten years, travel and tourism economic activity is expected to grow at a rate of 4% per annum and generate $6,591billion (11.6%) GDP and 251.6 million jobs across the world. The industry also provides a conduit by which prosperity can flow from developed to developing areas and nations. Global employment trends, however, threaten the industry’s buoyancy and widespread economic benefits, says the WTTC.

The 2001 Economic Forecast was done together with the council’s new econometric research partner, Oxford Economic Forecasting. The report uses the Tourism Satellite Accounting* method.

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