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Five-Year Greece Record Tourism Run Seen Ending

The National Herald

(Photo by Eurokinissi, file)

ATHENS – In an ominous note for the next administration after the July 7 snap elections, a five-year skein of record tourism for Greece seems on the verge of stopping, which could create critical cash losses to help the country boost a slow recovery from a nine-year economic crisis.

Tourism traffic this summer in Greece is slightly slower than last year, according to surveys, air arrival data and hoteliers, said Kathimerini.

The biggest hits were on Crete, as air arrivals dropped 7.2 percent in Iraklio in May and 5.6 percent in Hania. All other Fraport Greece-managed regional airports posted a decline averaging at 1.5 percent compared to a year earlier.

The decline in May was carried over into June, the beginning of the peak summer season with the first days of the month halving the gains recorded in the first six months of 2019.  The hotel sector saw low occupancy despite cutting prices, except for popular islands like Mykonos where anything goes and the rich drop 1000 euros ($1126) for a bottle of champagne.

The elections also held down domestic tourism with people delaying vacations to stay close to home where they could vote although it was said some 450,000 people working in tourism wouldn't be able to vote.

A month earlier, a survey by the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) conducted among hotel owners showed that 43 percent of hoteliers expect a 16 percent drop in occupancy this summer. One in six hoteliers (16 percent) sees their prices falling an average of 13 percent from summer 2018.

In the first quarter of the year 45 percent of hotels that operate year-round reported an average decline in occupancy of 24 percent year-on-year, and 31 percent of owners expect a 20 percent drop throughout the year along with a 13 percent fall in prices. On average, the occupancy rates across the country dropped 7.4 percent in January-March.

The main reasons for the decline, it was said, is many British tourists reluctant to travel with the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union in October. Britain is the second biggest market for the Greek hotels.