Conspicuous dispute appears in foreign press regarding tourist attraction in Greece. The forecasts seem ambiguous due to the events in the Mediterranean region that undoubtedly affect the tourist industry.
The Guardian notes: “The time has come for Greece to reinvent itself. After three years marked by riots, strikes, social upheaval and political unrest, the tourist industry is more important than ever. The article suggests a turn to audiences that have been neglected: gastronomic and cultural tourism, luxury resorts and boutique hotels can greatly benefit an industry that has mainly relied upon the sun-sand-sea triplex. After all, high expectations are partly based on the reduced restrictions of visa in rapidly emerging markets like China, Turkey and Russia. Despite the critical juncture, the introduction of a new way of thinking cannot take place without obstacles. The state-run archaeological service, for example, refuses to extend the audiences’ visiting time of the archaeological site of Delos – one of the most important places in the ancient world – past 3pm.
The L.A. Times estimated that Greece will have a massive number of visitors this year, after a one-year tourist drought due to political chaos and violent unrest – as mentioned in their article “Greece is banking on big tourist season to prime the economy” of May 25th. According to early reservations (as estimated in May), 17 million tourist arrivals are expected. This could entail an inflow of about one billion euros and 50.000 new jobs during the summer season. These data could be the basis for the reestablishment of an economy whose main features are high unemployment and prolonged recession that affect every household.
Of course, the benefits also depend on internal factors such as price levels, violent attacks on strangers or even the frequency of riots in the streets of Athens. As George Drakopoulos, the executive director of the Assn. of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) mentions: “Tourism is a good head start, however it should be integrated in a sustainable, long-term strategy that will ensure avoiding future pitfalls”.
The anticipated shift of tourists of Egypt has yet to be felt in Greece, Turkey and Italy”, according to the president of the Association of Turkish Travel Agents
“Capital.ro”, the Romanian portal of economic news, notes Greece’s national goal of attracting 17 million foreign tourists without failing to use economical terminology even during the low tourist season, considering that “Greek tourism ought to become even more competitive”. The author supports the views of George Provopoulos, director of the Bank of Greece, which would like to see the country extending its tourist season beyond the summer and to gradually become a regional center of educational services for professionals. The report concludes with the belief that Greece is the Mediterranean country that could benefit the most out of the hesitation of multiple tourists to visit Egypt and Turkey due to the known unrest.
The Turkish site does not seem to agree with the above, since “the anticipated shift of tourists of Egypt has yet to be felt in Greece, Turkey and Italy”, according to the president of the Association of Turkish Travel Agents. However, in another citation he can only agree that the events in Gezi park have temporarily tarnished the country’s image, resulting in massive cancellations in Istanbul. As noted by other agents in the same publication, the mass demonstrations against the Islamic turn of the country have alarmed European and Russian tourists even on whether they are still allowed to enjoy their (alcoholic) drink gazing at the Aegean. Agents from the Aegean coast countered that “these developments concern only Istanbul and not the tourist areas”, unwittingly confirming that there is, indeed, more than one Turkey.