Guide to SKOPJE

Greece expects one million tourists from Russia

According to the analysis and predictions of Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies, the steady increase in number of tourists from Russia will culminate this year expecting an impressive number of over one million visitors.

Wonderful nature, modern accommodation capacities, various entertainment possibilities and Orthodox churches attract a growing number of Russians to choose and spend their summer holiday in Greece instead of their traditional destinations such as Spain and France.

A massive marketing campaign launched by the Greek National Tourism Organization that amounts to €30 mil on a global level, and liberalized visa regime (Russian citizens can obtain a multiple entries visa since last year), have significantly contributed to gaining a share of this enormous market. In turn, it is expected that a market with such potential will bring a huge profit.

Austrians demand cheaper hotel accommodation

Still, besides the expected surge in visitors from Russia, Greek tourism is facing certain problems. Austrian travel agencies have called on Greek hoteliers to lower accommodation prices in order to keep their Austrian tourists who have now started canceling their summer holiday arrangements in Greece.

According to representatives of the biggest Austrian travel agencies the number of bookings for Greek resorts has decreased by 20% compared to last year’s numbers. Austrian travel agencies claim that hotel prices should be more attractive. Last year, the number of Austrian tourists who visited Greece was 480.000, which is 120.000 people less than in previous years. In 2007 that number was the highest in history – 600.000 and it is a proof that Greece is losing the tourism market share in the battle against Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Germany.

However, according to European travel agencies there are certain indicators that the number of tourists in Greece will increase in the following months when their programmess and holiday packages are promoted. Several low cost airlines have announced an increase in their number of inexpensive flights to Greece. Lauda Air has recently raised the number of weekly flights to 19 destinations in Greece. There used to be 58 weekly flights compared to 63 they are operating now. FlyNiki Airlines also increased the number of weekly flights from Austria to Greece to 42.

Although Greece had a developed tourism in Antiquity, it saw its rise and bloom in the 1960s and 1970s. Large hotels, apartments and other buildings were built during those years and the number of tourists rose sharply. Also, Greek tourism development was greatly helped by 2004 Summer Olympics and 2006 Eurovision Song Contest held in Athens.

Greek National Tourism Organization announced that, despite the global economic crisis, Greece was visited by over 16.5 million tourists last year. Profits were increased by 10% in 2011 compared to 2010, and they hope this trend will continue in the future.