The annual success of the tourism sector depends on systematic groundwork and sound preparation, according to the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises. An immediate priority, it says, is the adoption of the EU-approved Tourism Satellite Account method for tourism statistics. The association insists that accurate and up-to-date tourism data is of primary importance for planning, both for the public and private sector.
Another immediate priority, it says, is for the acceptance of the pending adjustments in urban planning regulations that presently harass more than 5,000 legal Greek hotel units.
As well, the association says government must formulate a national air transport policy that would not only entice new airlines to fly to Greece, but would also provide ways in which to develop the country’s regional airports.
Concerning tourism education, the association stressed the need for tourism degree studies within a network of Greek universities, as well as seminars for local authorities so as to improve the quality of tourism services.
For last year, the association estimates that the negative results of the previous three to four years have been reversed. Arrivals for the year, it says, are up by some 5% over 2004 and foreign exchange from tourism is expected to show a 7.5% increase over the year before, according to Bank of Greece statistics.
For this year, the association feels we will experience a very competitive environment. It cites the revaluation of the dollar against the euro, which should mean more travel within the European Union; expected lower prices in jet fuel; strong government promotion abroad of Greece as a destination; and an increase in Europe’s gross national product together with lower inflation.
On the negative side, the association feels that 2006 is the tail end of the positive effects from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and that German travelers may stay close to home in June as their country hosts the World Soccer Cup at that time. It adds that any unforeseen event (bird flu and terrorism, for example) could create unforeseeable situations.