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Greek Tourism Revenue Drops, Arrivals Improve

Greece’s tourism revenue dropped 11.9 percent during the first six months of the year and 15.7 percent in June, according to data from the Bank of Greece.

During the January-June period tourism revenue fell to 2.7 billion euros against 3.1 billion euros in 2009.
“June was the worst month of this summer season,” George Drakopoulos, general manager of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) told Reuters news agency.

“We paid for the May protests, the deaths and the bad publicity that followed this violence,” he stressed.

In regards to arrivals to Greece for the first six months of the year, Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Yiorgos Nikitiadis said that 19 Greek airports saw “a mere 2.3 percent decline in arrivals.

“Even though it is a decline we are pleased since forecasts had referred to a 15-20 percent drop in arrivals,” Mr. Nikitiadis said.

“If we are close to last year’s levels then we have exceeded our goals,” he added.

For the first seven months of 2010, the deputy minister told the press that arrivals to Greece dropped 1.2 percent. (Tourist arrivals increased in July from a six percent drop in May due to the violent demonstrations in Athens.)

Mr. Nikitiadis said he was optimistic, as “the negative sign on tourism will be replaced by a positive one.

“Reservations have increased for the months of August and September compared to the corresponding period last year,” he said.

Arrival figures at Greek airports for the month of July were deemed satisfactory despite flight disruptions and fuel shortages due to strikes that occurred that month.

Rodos and Kos saw an 11.4 percent and an 11.2 percent increase in arrivals respectively while Kerkyra saw visitors rise by five percent.

On the other hand, Crete saw a decline as Heraklio and Chania saw arrivals drop by 1.6 percent and 2.3 percent respectively.

In regards to the drop in Crete, Mr. Nikitiadis underlined that tourists traveled more by sea than by air due to ship ticket price reductions.

As for Athens and Thessaloniki, arrivals fell by 5.2 percent and 4.2 percent respectively.

The Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers said that tourism is going through a second very difficult year.

“Last year the problem was global while this year the problem is Greek,” the federation’s president, Andreas Andreadis, said to the press last month.

According to the federation’s president, last year Greece saw a decline of some 12 percent of revenue compared to 2008, which placed the country on the average of the Eurozone countries.

“This year, while all other countries are on a more positive level, Greece has presented a decrease of seven to nine percent in tourism revenue,” he said.

Mr. Andreadis underlined that in reality the reduction in revenue is over 10 percent.

“Greek hotels are showing even a greater decline in revenue, that of some 12 percent, which can also be attributed to the VAT increase,” he stressed.

(In March, the Greek government increased the standard VAT rate from 19 to 21 percent and the reduced nine percent rate -charged to certain businesses including restaurants and hotels- increased to 11 percent. The standard VAT rate increased again on 1 July to 23 percent.)

The federation’s president added that Greek hoteliers have been paying for the government’s lack of tourism strategy for many years.

In October 2009 the ministries of culture and tourism development became a single Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Tourism professionals still express doubts in regards to the effectiveness of such a merge.

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