ATHENS – Greece’s expectations of another record tourism season took a hit with a surprise drop in arrivals and revenues in March and as international tour operators told hotels not to raise prices.
The hotel owners told the Greek business newspaper Naftemporiki they were experiencing “stepped pressure” by the tour operators to freeze their rates as the country is hoping for a rebound in tourism revenues following disappointing results in 2016, despite record numbers of visitors.
Greece was expecting a big pickup in arrivals with tourists shunning terrorist areas such as Turkey and Egypt in search of vacations in calmer areas.
The President of the Association of Rhodes Hoteliers, Antonis Kampourakis, told Naftemporiki that tour operators are insisting on no increases in rates for 2018, while also demanding that contracts signed by Greek tourism enterprises come under the jurisdiction of their countries and not Greece.
Market sources referred to rates for individual packages commencing at 20 euros per room per overnight stay in top Greek resorts but local operators said they fear the prices will go even lower.
Greek tourism underperformed both in March and in the year’s first quarter according to official data released May 22 by the Bank of Greece.
On a monthly level tourism revenues came to 203.3 million euros ($228.36 million) in March, down 7.8 percent from March 2016, while they dropped 4.8 percent over the first quarter. Revenue figures were even lower than in 2015.
Tourism arrivals from abroad declined 0.2 percent in March and 1.8 percent in the first quarter in another disappointing result.
While signs indicate a better summer and with Athens and the islands already showing an upsurge in visitors, the first quarter data could mean annual targets for revenues will be missed again just as more economic uncertainty has set in.