Hopes for another record tourism season that has helped bring Greece a slow recovery from a nine-year economic recession were set back after data showed the failure to go after higher-income visitors is bringing far less revenues than hoped.
With many visitors from the Balkans and Eastern Europe who spend less, and fewer wealthy tourists - despite Greece’s allure for celebrities and a bevy of new high-end luxury resorts - there’s been a 30.3 percent drop in per capita spending since 2005..
That period includes the last few years when there’s been a consecutive run of record numbers of people coming and with tourism accounting for as much as 18 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 179.53 billion euros ($200.3 billion.)
The figures were compiled by the Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation (INSETE) and showed the revenue decline was also pushed by a reduction in the average stay by at least one day, reported Kathimerini.
In 2018, the average per capita expenditure of visitors to Greece was 519.6 euros ($579.71) compared to 2005, when it was 745.7 euros ($831.97) per trip, a drop of 226.1 euros ($252.26.).
Almost two-thirds of that reduction (63.2 percent or 143 euros -$159.54 ) is attributed to the shortening of the average stay, and 29 percent, or 65.5 euros ($73.08), to the change in the mix of markets that comprise critical Greek tourism.
Considering that 100 euros ($111.57) buys less in 2018 than it did in 2005, due to inflation, the actual reduction of tourists’ spending is even greater.
INSETE’s General Director Ilias Kikilias told the newspaper that to get tourism spending cranked up that Greece needs “the creation of a more sophisticated product with higher-quality features that would upgrade the overall experience of the visitor and concern all links of the value chain that make up the tourism product.”
Also, he added, “A more efficient management of destinations with specific strategic planning, merging of forces and broader cooperation on a central and local level, along with the modernization of infrastructure for energy sufficiency, cleanliness, policing, healthcare etc. as to cover the requirements of the tourists as well as the inhabitants of this country.”
There was a boost when Greek Ambassador to Lebanon Franciscos Verros said Lebanon and Greece are working on increasing tourism exchange between the countries.
“The Lebanese are well known for being great fans of Greece’s tourism, especially when it comes to island destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini,” Verros told Xinhua in an interview on the sidelines of a press conference in Lebanon’s capital Beirut to prepare for the Greek festival in Lebanon.
“The number of Greek tourists to Lebanon has also increased in the past two years because the Greeks have become more aware of Lebanon’s nightlife,” he added. The three-day festival will start in Byblos, a city about 42 kilometers north of Beirut, on June 7.
It will be organized by Stin Viryto, an organization founded by the Lebanese journalist George Eid, an ethnic Greek who is also one of the most prominent figures of the Greek community in the Middle Eastern country, in cooperation with Lebanon’s Ministry of Tourism and the Greek National Tourism Organization.
The festival will promote tourism through Greek travel agents who will give advice to Lebanese people about the most attractive destinations in Greece, said the Chinese news agency, and it will feature kiosks with Greek food and products and an open-air cinema playing Greek movies.