Greek tourism revenues to recover this year


Athens – Greek tourism revenues are likely to recover in 2011 after two straight years of decline given a rise in early bookings from most of the debt-stricken country’s main markets, the deputy tourism minister said on Saturday.

Greece is struggling with a huge debt crisis. How tourism fares will be crucial for its economy, which contracted by 4.2 percent in 2010, the deepest recession in almost 40 years, and is expected to shrink by another 3 percent this year.

“I believe that the current year will be better than the previous year. We will do better both in arrivals and revenues,” deputy tourism minister George Nikitiadis said in an interview with Imerisia newspaper.

Arrivals dropped 3.2 percent year on year in the six-month period to June in 2010, according to Greek airport data, with strikes and street protests in austerity-hit Greece keeping many tourists away.

But Nikitiadis said that the country was regaining confidence and that 2011 tourist revenues could even be positive after a drop of between 6.5 and 7 percent last year.

“Bookings from all the countries by January have increased,” he said. “Germany appears moderate but I believe this will change very soon.”

About 15 million tourists visit Greece every year.

Nikitiadis said there was foreign interest in investment in Greece’s tourism sector and he was looking to further Greek cooperation with low-cost air carriers that could boost the annual number of incoming tourists by 1.5 to 2 million.