Tourism in Greece presents a mixed picture. On the one hand, a struggling domestic economy, with high unemployment rates and little disposable income, means we expect to see consistent declines in outbound travel throughout the forecast period. On the other hand, the affordability of the country in comparison to others in the Eurozone means we expect inbound travel, and as a consequence receipts from travel related expenditure, to increase by 2017.
Due in large part to extensive development in the run up to the hosting of the 2004 Olympics, the tourism infrastructure of Greece is well developed, and the country is therefore able to support the expected increases in inbound travel.
After fluctuating between 2010 and 2013, we expect inbound arrivals to increase from 2013 onwards, with the overall annual arrivals figure increasing from an estimated 15.5mn in 2012 to a forecasted 19.1mn in 2017. This growth is dependent on a lasting improvement in the economic situation of major source markets within the Eurozone, in particular the UK and Germany. At the present time, BMI is forecasting flat growth for the eurozone in 2013, rising to 1.2% in 2014. Over the longer term, tourism in Greece would benefit from an expansion into other markets, particularly affluent countries in the Asia Pacific region such as China.
The increases in inbound travel will help to offset the overall decline we expect to see in outbound travel. We expect that the poor domestic economic conditions are unlikely to show substantial improvement in the next few years, and therefor outbound travel is expected to decrease from 3.7mn in 2013 to just 3.4mn in 2017.
Despite the poor economic conditions, we do expect to see a minimal increase in the number of hotels and other accommodation establishments by 2017, with further investment opportunities present in the form of the of the government disposal of its hotel assets as part of its widespread economic reform programme.
This growth reflects the potential offered by the Greek tourism market, if investors are prepared to make a long-term commitment.
- According to local reports, the National Bank of Greece is in the process of selling its 85.35% stake in Astir Palace Vouliagmenis. Astir's prime assets are the Luxury Collection Arion Resort and Spa (123 rooms and 58 bungalows), as well as the Westin Athens (162 rooms). Both of these hotels are currently managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts
- Top global hotel brands continue to invest in the Greek market, with Starwood Hotels & Resorts opening the W Athens Astir Palace Beach, a luxury property in Athens in 2016. Other chains are also expanding into the market with Spanish hotel chain Barcelo Hotels & Resorts entering into a management contract to operate the five-star Hydra Beach resort near Ermioni in early 2013.
- Given Greece's continued economic difficulties, outbound air traffic flows look set to remain subdued over our forecast period to 2017, with the number of air transport passengers carried rising from 7.99mn in 2013, to just 8.08mn in 2017.
- Inbound travel is set to increase from 15.8mn in 2013 to 19.1mn in 2017, helping to offset the expected decrease in outbound travel.
- Although Greece scores fairly well on some measures in BMI's proprietary Tourism Industry Risk/ Reward ratings for Western Europe, its high levels of political risk, bureaucracy and corruption outweigh these positives. This has resulted in BMI giving Greece an overall Tourism Industry Risk/Reward rating of 49.83 this quarter, putting it in second to last position for the Western European region, behind Iceland and ahead of Malta.