A 5.6 percent drop in travel receipts and an 11 percent decrease in traffic to Greece for the first two months of the year delivered a blow to the industry which is preparing for the new season amidst the ongoing negative media portrayal of the country, mushrooming taxes, the migrant issue and political turmoil.
According to the Bank of Greece figures released this week, foreign arrivals for January and February 2016 dropped by 11 percent to 992,000 visitors compared to the same period in 2015. The number of incoming travelers in February came to 433,000, down by 14.9 percent compared with the same month last year.
For February, the travel balance marked a deficit of 4 million euros compared to a surplus of 4 million euros in 2015.
Travel receipts for February fell by 6.7 percent to 134 million euros against 143 million euros in 2015, due in part to a drop in the number of arrivals. For both January and February, travel receipts dropped by 5.6 percent to 295 million euros.
Sector professionals have repeatedly warned that tourism, the country’s strongest earner, will inevitably feel the brunt of rash decisions including an increase in VAT, as well as a newly rumoured “sleep tax”.
Despite the two-month figures however, sector insiders are expecting tourism to pick up pace particularly in view of the fact that travelers are avoiding Turkey.
In the meantime, revenue from German holidaymakers rose by 28.2 percent to 13 million euros, but dropped from French tourists by 24.5 percent to 3 million euros. Travel receipts from UK vacationers also fell by 2.9 percent to 13 million euros. Receipts from US visitors rose by 22 percent to 5 million euros.