The Greek consumer group INKA announced last month that it received 7,100 complaints from tourists between the start of the year and the end of June. Most complained of excessive charges for poor-quality services.
“The biggest problem of Greek tourism is the emergence of mediocrity in the goods and services offered. They (the incidents) may not be reported, but they do leave a feeling of disappointment in comparison with other tourism choices,” INKA said.
Tourism professionals say that such unethical practices happen everywhere. They remind that of the country’s roughly 14 million tourists, this number of complaints is extremely small. “Of course, we would prefer no complaints at all.”
Meanwhile, according to the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasting, the number of foreign visitors arriving by air was up 8.3 percent in June and 8.8 percent in July, the increases being evenly spread among the country’s major destinations. In the January-July period, the rise was 8.1 percent.
The institute, however, said that the increase in tourism receipts was not commensurate with that of arrivals. In the five months to May, receipts were down 4 percent, against a 3.2 percent rise in arrivals, despite an impressive increase (630%) in arrivals from the USA.
Makis Fokas, president of the hotel chamber, blamed a shift in the industry toward all-inclusive tourism packages. He said the sector has seen rapid growth in all-inclusive packages. “Five years ago, only a handful of hotels offered such deals. But this year, half of Greece’s 600 largest hotels – those with more than 200 rooms – have booked such packages.”
As well as the Institute’s report on arrivals, a more in-depth report on the kind of arrivals was released recently by Athens International Airport. Its survey at the Athens’s Eleftherios Venizelos Airport covers arrivals during the first six months of this year. British arrivals, when compared with the first half of last year, have dropped slightly. Between January and June this year, there were 69,641 British arrivals, down from 74,789 in the same period last year. Over a third of them are aged 25-34; 21 percent are aged 55-64. Around 80 percent of them are university graduates and over half (55 percent) are London residents.
Their average length of stay in Greece is 11 days, of which about five are spent in Athens.
The number of arrivals from France is on the increase, from 40,390 in the first half of last year to 69,838 this year. The largest age group is aged 55-64, followed by the 25-34 year-olds. Nearly half are residents of Paris.
In contrast to the other groups, nearly half of the French visitors opt for package tours and book an average six weeks ahead of their trip.
Arrivals from Germany were also fewer so far this year, down to 71,219 from 78,724 recorded last year, which was 20 percent higher than in 2004. Nearly a third are aged 55-64 and 22 percent are 25-343 years of age.
Most German visitors (79%) have completed tertiary education. The majority of German tourists come from Munich and stay in Greece for an average of eight days, four of which are usually spent in Athens.
American visitors showed the most impressive increase so far this year. Arrivals increased from just 21,083 in the same period last year to 155,853 this year, a whopping 630 percent.
Most American visitors are here on vacation, usually staying for about 18 days; Greek Americans combine holidays with visits to family and friends, and stay longer – an average 40 days, half of that time in Athens.