Greece is subject of international agreements to deseasonalise its tourism supply

In 2015, tourism generated a direct contribution of 13,3 billion euros, which represents 7,6% of the total GDP of the country (the total contribution was 18,5%), as reported in the WTTC’s “Travel & Tourism: Economic Impact 2016”. In spite of the economic uncertainty, it is projected an annual growth of 4%, which will represent 9,3% of direct contribution (22,4% of total contribution) by 2026.

The tourists’ expense in the Country was about 15 billion euros in 2015, and it is foreseen to grow by 4,4% per year up to 23 billion euros in 2026, and the number of international arrivals up to 30 million. According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, in 2015 the international arrivals from Europe were almost 21 million, 1,5 million from Asia and about 1 million from America. According to the WTTC report, Greece keeps its status of leisure destination. In particular, 93,1% of the tourism contribution to GDP derives from this segment, even if it is foreseen a growth of the business sector up to 3,5 billion by 2026. Last summer, according to Tui, Greece was the preferred destination by Austrian tourists, and the second by German tourists. In fact, the company projected by 2017 10 new direct flights from Linz to Greece, and from several German airports to Kos, Rhodes and Crete.

According to the report “Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report” by the World Economic Forum, the strong points of the Greek tourism system are “Tourism Service Infrastructure” (12th), “Air Transport Infrastructure” (27th) and “Natural and Cultural Resources” (35th). On the other hand, there is room for improvement in “Business Environment” (104th) and “Price Competitiveness” (113th). Generally, Greece is the 31st of 141 analysed Countries in terms of tourism competitiveness.

In 2014, Greek Tourism Confederation released the “Greek Tourism Strategic Plan: 2021 Growth Roadmap”. The Plan aims to enhance tourism flows in order to reach 22-24 million of international arrivals, to generate a more important impact of the direct contribution to GDP up to 18-19 billion, to increase the employment in the tourism field and a to offer a diversification of the tourism supply. The Plan projects an expansion of the market towards new niche and segments, including seniors. In fact Greece, along with Spain, is one of the preferred destinations by European senior tourists, according to a study by Eurostat.

Cultural resources are a strong point of the Greek tourism supply. According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, in 2015 the registered entrances to museums an archaeological sites were almost 15 million. Moreover, Athens will be the 2018 UNESCO World Book Capital, and the year will be characterised by thematic events in every part of the city. The Athens Medical Association, along with the Central Union of Greek Municipalities and the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, proposed Greece as a medical tourism destination, announcing actions and international partnerships in order to promote this segment. A group of Greek and Chinese entrepreneurs created the “Greek-Chinese Union for the Promotion of Investments & Partnerships”, which follows the consolidation of COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Company) in the Piraeus harbour’s stock market. The Union aims to strengthen the relationships between the Countries. International investors are betting on Greek accommodation market, projecting to allocate more than 3000 new tourism services, in particular in the luxury segment. An example is given by the 408-million-euros project financed by a Russian consortium, which aims to develop the tourism sector around the Elounda area. In January, the Greek Parliament also renewed the Memorandum of Understanding with Egypt, which regards cooperation and bilateral agreements between the Countries in the tourism field.

According to the UK Foreign Travel Advice, in Greece there is a “general” threat from terrorism, mainly due to the proximity to Turkey, a Country with a “high” threat from terrorism. Notwithstanding, Greek cities and coastal areas have a low criminal rate and are considered quite safe.

At Twissen we observed that Greece is a resilient destination when it comes to tourism, in spite of the terrorism alert in the Mediterranean area and the arrival of migrants to its island. There is room for new business in the segments that are projected to help deseasonalising the tourism demand, in particular senior and luxury, which are being supported both from foreign investments and European Structural and Investment Funds.