“The political stability that has resulted from the 17 June elections and the formation of the Government already has influenced recent reservations on a positive level,” Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said while addressing a conference last month.
The president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Andreas Andreadis, appeared to agree with the minister when he recently commented on international arrival figures released by the association.
“It is uplifting to see that bookings are picking up and reaching normal figures,” he told the press.
Compared with 2011, international arrivals at 14 major Greek airports dropped “only” by 4.6 percent during the January-June 2012 period following a 5.1 percent decrease recorded during the January-May period. “This is considered an improvement,” SETE said.
The association added that this “positive development” demonstrated Greek tourism’s resilience and that this year’s initial target of 16 million international arrivals (with a decrease of some three percent compared to 2011) was possible provided that no “tourist repellent” incidents would occur (i.e., sit ins at archaeological sites, demonstrations with molotov cocktails, port-airport blockades, etc.).
Greece’s stable political environment that formed after the national elections on 17 June apparently gave a boost to bookings even one day after the votes were counted. Online travel company Expedia recently reported a “record increase” in bookings to the country.
According to Expedia, bookings to Greece showed a 27 percent increase during 18-24 June compared to the corresponding period in 2011. The majority of bookings were said to have came from the US, Italy and UK, while reservations from Germany -Greece’s biggest source of tourists- fell by two percent.
Are the Germans, British Coming?
International press reports said last month that German bookings to Greece were on the up, according to tour operators from Germany.
Prior to the 17 June elections in Greece, tour operators and German airlines had reported a drop of around a third in bookings to Greece for this summer. Thomas Cook Germany told Reuters news agency that once a stable Greek Government was formed, bookings began to increase.
However, bookings to Greece from Germany were said to still be below last year figures as German tourists were opting for Turkey or Tunisia this year.
In regards to arrivals from Greece’s second top incoming market, the UK, opinions varied.
On one hand, Greek tourism professionals said the 2012 Olympic Games that kicked off on 27 July in London are expected this month to have an impact on bookings to Greece from the UK market.
Press reports, however, mentioned that searches for holidays in Greece by Britons soared over 200 percent in recent months.
Nevertheless, despite the general improvement in the rate of bookings after the elections, a negative forecast remained for 2012.
Tourism professionals said the recovery of bookings in June would not cover the losses in arrivals and revenue recorded during the first five months of the year.