Most Greek destinations were disappointed this summer when arrivals failed to increase as expected during the summer months. The end result, according to trade professionals, is that Greece will post an 8% drop in tourism arrivals this year. And this occurs after a difficult 2003.
What’s difficult for most to accept, say private sector tourism leaders, is that outside influences are not responsible for the drop as competing countries, such as Spain, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt and Tunisia continue to do comparatively well.
They say the fault lies with the market itself because of high price, particularly for outside hotel expenses that are easily comparable to prices at home by visiting tourists, and the lack of proper promotion abroad. They also mention value for money, which is lacking here in many cases, and the general lack of a long-term tourism plan by both government and the private sector enterprises.
For Crete, one of Greece’s strongest destinations, arrivals during August were down some 10% over the same month last year, according to the Crete Hoteliers’ Association. It says revenue for tourism enterprises for the month dropped by around 20%, and that’s compared with a drop of 25% in 2003 over 2002.
Similar problems are being experienced on Corfu, another popular Greek destination. The hotel association there says arrivals for the first nine months of this year are down 10% against last year with August and September arrivals down by some 15%.
The hotel union in Chalkidiki expects arrivals to drop by 7% when all the data is counted by the end of the year. The only positive sign, says the association, is that August and September arrivals remained at last year’s levels after a difficult May-June period. It says the loss in German and British arrivals was made up in part with arrivals from Russia, Skopia, Bulgaria and Serbia.
For 2005, the Chalkidiki Hoteliers’ Union says it does not expect to see any major changes in arrival numbers and adds that prices given to tour operators for next year’s bookings are the same as this year plus inflation increases.
In the general Macedonia area, the prefecture’s general secretariat believes the final figures for the year will show a 5% drop in tourism arrivals to the area when compared with last year. It says a good August and September helped cut earlier losses and waylaid the drastic forecasts of drops in arrivals of between 25 and 40%.