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Central Bank Head Sees Positive Year Ahead for Greek Tourism

The Greek tourism sector is moving full speed ahead for an even stronger year thanks in great part to the revamp of the country’s regional airports, the introduction of new routes by low cost carriers, the expansion of Greek carrier Aegean Airlines’ network and the increase in the availability of rooms, said Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras in his 2017 report released this month.

Stournaras, a former finance minister, noted that the positive trend is set to continue into the year ahead referring to 2017 during which tourism figures improved. The bank governor noted that despite a decrease in receipts in 2016 and in the first quarter of 2017, incoming traffic grew by 9.7 percent year-on-year in comparison to 2016, while travel receipts (excluding cruise) showed an 11.1 percent rise. At the same time, Stournaras underlined, average spending recovered across the year up by 1.4 percent in 2017 from an 11.3 percent decline in 2016.

Stournaras added that the sector’s positive performance contributed to a more competitive pricing policy for tourism businesses at the beginning of 2017, as did the extension of the tourism season and the security issues at rival Mediterranean destinations.

However, on the downside, the bank governor expressed reservations with regard to hotel business turnover, which he said may be impacted due to the stayover tax which took effect on January 1 this year.

According to the bank governor’s report, the number of beds increased by 3 percent countrywide in the 2012-2016 period, with availability at luxury hotels up by 22 percent, driven by the escalating tourist flows that have spurred investments.

In the meantime, in his speech on Monday at the 85th Bank of Greece annual shareholders meeting, Stournaras said he was “anticipating a pick-up in growth for 2018, with GDP growing by 2.4 percent, driven by the solid performance of tourism, stronger manufacturing output reflecting the improved business environment and heralding a rise in business investment, increased exports and favourable global economic conditions”.

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