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Eurobank Conference on Increasing Competitiveness

Spain and Turkey are considered Greece’s main international competitors by Greek hoteliers due to their lower prices and better promotion by tourism organizations reported an EFG Eurobank study of hotel enterprises throughout Greece carried out August through October 2006.

This report was presented at the bank’s conference on setting Greece’s priorities for competition and innovation in the international tourism industry.

The report, signed by Gikas Hardouvelis, the bank’s chief financial consultant, also found that 46 percent of the hotels planned to invest in renovations with a goal of increasing their prices, while 23.4 percent did not plan on making any investments even though they had made none in the last ten years. Thirty-six percent of the hotels were built before 1980, and only 9.6 percent after 2000. Hotel bed capacity had increased to 75 beds in 2005 as compared with 65 in 1990.

Finally, Greeks make up 46 percent of the hotel customers, while foreign visitors make up 67 percent of the customers at the five star hotels. Hotel reservations made through tour operators came to 42 percent.

“Tourism is a catalyst for Greece’s economic development,” said Nikolaos Nanopoulos, managing director of EFG Eurobank, at the conference, “and one of the few sectors that we can confirm our country has a competitive advantage internationally.” Nikolaos Karamouzis, the bank’s deputy managing director, discussed the significant and increasing effect the tourism industry has on economic activity, and its contribution to strengthening the Greek economy.

Foreign revenue from tourism grew 134.4 percent over the last decade, which was higher than the country’s economic output of 44 percent according to the Eurobank study.

One of the international speakers, Peter Keller, a professor at the University of Lausanne and tourism director of the Swiss economic secretariat, said “increasing the financial benefit of tourism is based directly on planning, both by the government and private initiative.”

Another speaker, Aguilo Perez, vice president of the Spanish Organization of Tourism Specialists, presented a case-study on the Balearic islands where a small but strong local tourism industry must strengthen and promote the tourism product while protecting the environment through social responsibility.

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