Financial Times published an article on Greek tourism mentioning that Greece seems to “enjoy a record year for tourism, with popular resorts booked to capacity in July and August and international cruise ships queueing up to call at Aegean Island ports”.
According to the article tourist number raised to 1.9m in the first four months of 2014, which is a 30% increase, compared with last year based on data published by the association of Greek tourism enterprises, SETE.
In Athens, arrivals were up 36%, while the Aegean Islands saw a 120% increase mainly to Easter holidays.
Andreas Andreadis, SETE’s president, forecasts that this year Greece will welcome more than 19m visitors, whereas last year received 17.9m visitors.
As the article mentions, tourists from UK and Germany are expected to “offset a sharp fall in arrivals from Russia, Ukraine and the Balkan countries”.
Also, about 2.2m visitors more are expected to arrive on cruise ships and disembark on Corfu, Santorini and Mykonos.
“I’m very bullish about the tourism industry, I think it will help lift [GDP] growth this year closer to 1 per cent compared with the official projection of 0.4 per cent,” Mr Andreadis said.
Greece’s revenues from tourism are projected to reach 13.5bn euros whereas in 2013 reached 12bn euros.
However, there is still room for Greece’s tourist industry to expand.
According to a study conducted by McKinsey arrivals could reach 21m by 2024 with annual revenue up to €18bn provided that “Greece maintains political stability and manages to attract substantial private investment in the tourism sector”.
Also, the spring and autumn tourist seasons can be further developed. Greece does not have big resorts, while there are few luxury hotel brands.
Moreover, “golf courses, which attract high-spending tourists, are in short supply” as the article mentions.
Despite the fact that Greece has the longest coastline in EU and almost 200 inhabited islands, there are only a few marinas that offer the same quality standard of service as found in Croatia and Turkey (the countries which are the main rivals of Greece for yachting tourism), according to FT.
Also, the article refers to the few international funds that have acquired hotels in Greece or have cooperated with local partners who have specialized knowledge in hotel management and mentions Jermyn Real Estate that acquired Astir hotel at Vouliagmeni south of the capital, Oaktree Capital Management and Sani planning to create a luxury resort group and invest more than €100m in acquiring and upgrading existing hotels around Greece.
Also, FT mentions “Greece’s biggest privatisation project, the €6bn development of the former Athens International Airport site at Hellenikon into a tourism and leisure hub for the east Mediterranean”, which as developers say may take 25 years to complete it.”
As it refers in the article “An investor group led by Latsis, a Greek family group, in partnership with the Chinese conglomerate Fosun and Al Maabar, a property company linked to Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, agreed to pay €915m for a 99-year-lease on Hellenikon.”
Another project which is expected to be awarded by at the end of this year is the building and operation of a new new international airport at Heraklion, Crete.
Ioannis Emiris, Taiped’s chief executive, said that about €300m are expected to invest over the next four years and stated that “We want to upgrade facilities, security and operations to the high standards of Athens international airport.”