Govt forecasts record year for tourism arrivals; sector officials predict lower figure

Tuesday, 21 March 2017 11:56

By. A. Tsimplakis

The leadership of the country's largest tourism sector, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), cited three conditions for a record-breaking year this season in the all-important tourism industry, in a meeting on Monday with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

SETE's president and vice-president, Andreas Andreadis and Yannis Retsos, respectively, called for calm on the domestic front, a smooth operation of services in the country and a de-escalation of tension on the international stage.

The goal for 2017, according to the leftist government, is for tourism arrivals to exceed 30 million.

Nevertheless, SETE's leadership said a major obstacle still plaguing the sector is very high taxation rates, which tourism sector officials maintain undermine the competitiveness of Greece's tourism product, especially SMEs.

SETE's negative forecast for 2017, including cruise ship arrivals, point to a 20-percent decline from 2016, primarily because of the geopolitical situation in the eastern Mediterranean. SETE points to a figure of 28 million tourists, assuming that arrivals by car remain stable.

Sector officials also said that if tourism revenues return to 2015 levels, then the total could reach 14.2 to 14.5 billion euros, on an annual basis.

The Bank of Greece (BoG) and tourism officials pointed to a drop in tourism-related revenues and remittances in 2016, especially in average per diem spending by visitors, a position that generated a heated response by the relevant tourism ministry's leadership.