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Europeans Make Up Majority of Greek Tourism Market

Seventy percent of Greece’s tourism revenue, 11,037 million euro in 2005, comes from the 15 original EU countries found the Bank of Greece’s three-year travel survey (2003-2005).

The new EU member countries, including the soon to be inducted Bulgaria and Romania, contributed 9.8% in 2005, while Russia contributed 1.2%, Switzerland 2% and Turkey 0.6%. Revenue from U.S. travelers was low but rising, from 4.5% in 2003 to 6.2 % in 2005. For most other countries the participation was less than 1 percent.

The Bank’s Frontier Travel Survey for 2003-2005, prepared by Evangelos Pantelidis and Georgios Kouvatseas, is intended to overcome the data gap on tourism in Greece. Monthly sampling surveys were made to establish the average spending of travelers visiting Greece (non-resident) and of Greeks (resident) going abroad. The surveys were carried out at frontier stations (airports, ports, train stations, and border crossings). Departing non-residents and returning residents were asked about the cost of their trip, the length of their stay and cost of each overnight stay.

The table below is a breakdown by country of the expenses paid for travel to Greece, the number of days of the trip and the cost for overnight stays for the period 2003-2005.

Overall, travel spending from the EU 15 increased slightly from 714 euros in 2003 to 744 euro in 2005. This increase is associated with the small increase in the cost of overnight stays, since the average number of days (11) remained constant.

A related finding was that the cost of overnight stays in Greece is lower than the average paid by travelers visiting the other 25 EU member countries. Overnight stays cost an average of 70 euros in Greece, while the average in the other countries was 86 euro.

The authors concluded that while it may not be possible to increase the length of stay significantly, it is important to increase spending during the stay. So by improving the quality of service, the cost of the overnight stay could be increased. At the same time, offering additional services for special interest travelers, such as golf and yachting, would also increase spending.

Not surprisingly, the seasonality of tourism was confirmed by the study since about 60% of the annual revenue is made during the third quarter of the year. This underscores the potential of an increase in revenues by extending the tourism season.

Other factors the authors suggested would increase tourism revenue are expanding into new markets (such as Russia, new EU member countries and other emerging economies), and expanding the package tour market.

The survey also found that only about ten percent of the visitors to Greece came on business trips. This is yet another area that can be expanded significantly through business travel (conferences, incentive travel) and which usually takes advantage of the off-peak season.

Another finding was that travelers on package tours spent significantly more on their overnight stays, 55% percent more on average than individual travelers. This led the authors to conclude that expanding package tours has good prospects over the long term and it would also expand business opportunities for tour operators in Greece.

With regard to Greeks traveling to the 15 EU member countries total travel expenses per trip increased from 587 euros in 2003 to 657 euros in 2005. This was due to an increase in the cost of overnight stays (from 49 euro in 2003 to 65 euro in 2005), and despite a reduction in the average length of the stay from 12 days in 2003 to 10 days in 2005.

Greek travelers spent the most on overnight stays in Holland (129 euro), followed by France (120 euro) and then Austria (113 euro). While the total travel expense for Greeks was highest for travel to the U.S. (1,609 euro), Russia (1,297 euro) and England (1,132 euro).

The Frontier Survey is an ongoing effort and the authors believe that it will provide the needed baseline data for tourism. The survey will be expanded and improved so that additional information is gathered and the data becomes more complete. For example, data will be collected from cruise ships that stop in Greek harbors.

Excerpted Data Regarding Incoming Travelers

Expense per Trip (in Euro) Average stay (days) Expense of overnight stay
Countries 2003 2004 2005 2003 2004 2005 2003 2004 2005
Austria 662 693 711 11.5 10.2 10.3 57.4 67.9 69.5
Belgium 682 714 770 11.0 10.2 10.2 61.8 70.0 75.6
France 722 720 819 10.9 10.3 10.3 66.4 69.9 79.8
Germany 795 823 801 13.6 14.2 14.0 58.5 58.0 57.1
Spain 837 728 895 8.8 7.3 9.0 95.1 99.6 99.4
Italy 687 740 775 10.5 9.7 10.4 65.3 76.2 74.5
Holland 626 694 704 10.8 10.8 10.6 57.9 64.1 66.6
Denmark 597 735 647 9.2 9.1 9.0 64.9 80.7 71.6
United Kingdom 825 834 842 10.6 10.4 10.5 77.7 80.0 80.4
Sweden 575 684 587 11.3 10.5 10.0 50.8 65.1 58.7

Source: Bank of Greece

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