Despite on-again, off-again pronouncements from the government that it’s serious about improving the tourism infrastructure and devising new campaigns to lure visitors, Greece’s tourism receipts fell 4 percent in the first 10 months of 2012, hurt by continuing social and political unrest.
The drop-off was exacerbated by a fall in visitors from other European countries, although domestic sales were not good either as many Greeks, under financial pressure from pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions imposed by the government as a condition of getting international aid, stayed home in the summer and the holidays instead of seeing sites in their own country.
Statistics showed that tourists spent 9.77 billion euros ($12.91 billion), compared with 10.18 billion euros in the year-earlier period, according to The Bank of Greece. Visitor numbers fell 5.5 percent overall with arrivals from the other 26 EU countries down 13.4 percent and from the other 16 euro-area nations down 17.5 percent, the central bank said in the statement.
Tourism accounts for about 16 percent of Greece’s gross domestic product, according to the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council and is the most important revenue producer for the country. Although it has remarkable history and beautiful vistas, Greece is behind countries such as Ukraine in getting visitors.
New Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni has promised that she would reverse years of complacency in the office and do more to attract visitors, although the country’s financial problems has limited advertising campaigns. She has traveled to the U.S. and other countries in a bid to show Greece is still a favored destination.