A one-digit increase in early bookings from the United Kingdom to Greece for 2016 has been recorded so far, Andreas Andreadis, president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), said on the sidelines of the World Travel Market London which opened on Monday.
Greece saw a 25 percent increase in arrivals from the UK in the year to August 2015, welcoming approximately 1.8 million British visitors compared to 1.4 million in the same period last year, and a 33.5 percent increase of travel receipts.
According to Mr Andreadis, the positive data from the UK market is mainly a result from external factors such as the parity between sterling and the euro and the instability of Islamic destinations, including neighboring Turkey.
SETE’s president underlined that although the data is positive, the sector must focus on shielding the competitiveness of the Greek tourism product and overcome a series of immediate challenges such as overtaxation and high unfair competition from illegal accommodation. He added that investor interest in Greece must strengthen and the obstacles that hinder the issuance of biometric visas must be solved.
“Through close cooperation with the Tourism Ministry, the other competent ministries, relevant bodies and organizations, but also with the support of all links in the tourism chain, namely small enterprises, travel agencies, rented rooms, catering businesses, aviation and shipping, we will try to collectively and effectively tackle all of these challenges.”
When asked by GTP if he sees the refugee crisis as a threat to Greek tourism, Mr Andreadis said that it is highly important how Greece deals with the situation.
“The refugee crisis does not appear to have had a major impact on tourism… It could even turn out to be a positive development in regards to the country’s image”, he said.
“The way the local communities are handling the situation and helping these people is very touching… I consider it a chance for Greece to show its hospitality to the world.”