Greece's Tourism Industry Bouncing Back in Wake of Financial Crisis
It's been two weeks since Greece's government agreed to a tentative bailout deal with creditors, but the country's tourism industry, which accounted for nearly 10 percent of GDP last year, is already on the upswing, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"Greece now offers incredible value for money," said Association of British Travel Agents spokesman Sean Tipton via the Journal. "Prices have dropped as a result of the crisis and the pound is strong against the euro. Customers called us up for advice, but we had no cancellations."
High-end accommodation prices in popular Greek destinations have plummeted by as much as 15 percent year on year, according to international travel operators cited by the Journal.
"For June, luxury travel accommodation in Greece was up 22.4 percent on year," said Switchfly Inc. CEO Daniel Farrar via the Journal. "We expect a similar on-year increase for July."
In addition to hotel bookings, tour operators and airlines say reservations are on the rise.
The ABTA said bookings to Greece for July are up two percent from last year, while Greece's largest carrier, Aegean Airlines, has increased flights from Europe to Athens by 30 percent this summer, per the Journal.
Uncertainty surrounding Greece's financial crisis had led to a decline in hotel bookings late last month and into July. However Institute of Greek Tourism Confederation research director Aris Ikkos said the country is "weathering the crisis reasonably well," pointing out that hotel bookings were just recently down as much as 20 percent compared to the same period last year.
"...but since then there are strong indications of an increase and we estimate we are at par or slightly up from levels last year," Ikkos added.
Capital controls imposed by the government last month have had little to no impact on tourists and once hesitant travelers now appear confident of what to expect.
And despite the bumpy start to the summer season, Greek tourism officials remain optimistic.
"We are hoping that we won't go through another round of political drama for the rest of the summer season," Ikkos told the Journal. "We had 22 million arrivals for the whole of last year and if calm prevails we may even slightly surpass that level."
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