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Research Institute Says Greek Tourism Rebound Mild at Best

As government boasts that arrivals this year will surpass last year’s numbers by more than 10%, a report from the country’s Institute for Tourism Research says we’ll be fortunate to see a 7% increase in arrivals.

Charter flight arrivals, says the institute, during the year’s first half came in below expectations but still managed to record a 4.8 percent annual rise, reaching 3,839,862 tourists from 3,662,972 in January-June 2004, according to the recent institute report.

“Despite the unprecedented promotion and advertising carried out by our country, there has only been a relatively mild rebound,” says Professor Panayiotis Pavlopoulos, director of the tourism research institute, and adds that these figures do not meet expectations considering the government’s promotional efforts and external factors.

Athens obtained the lion’s share of the country’s tourist arrivals (2,139,757), as charters flying into Eleftherios Venizelos Airport increased by 12 percent compared with the first half of last year.

Thessaloniki’s Macedonia Airport followed with 448,430 tourists arriving, up by 1.1 percent from 2004.

And Chania on Crete rose by 4.5 annually, reaching 194,163 tourists. Greece’s other island destinations generally did less well, with Chios posting the biggest drop (13 percent) falling to just 5,302 tourists, followed by Zakynthos, which lost 10.8 percent, and Kefalonia, which fell by 8.4 percent. Kos, Rodos and Heraklion also recorded a drop in arrivals.

Professor Panayiotis Pavlopoulos says “these trends do not allow for greater optimism than that in our two previous reports. It will not be easy to forecast a rise in arrivals in excess of 5 to 7 percent unless there is a strong upswing outside Athens, as this is where the problem lies.

“The capital is showing a quite satisfactory performance, which is keeping the country’s tourism at a reasonable level. This may be an indication that foreign tourists increasingly choose according to quality and to a lesser extent according to price,” he adds.

Athens, he says, is now a leader following the Olympic Games. But the downgrading of quality, Greece’s absence from international tourism forums and the generally insufficient advertising and promotion creates problems that are not easily reversible, he says. “The effort made to date may be impressive but must continue uninterrupted.”

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