Numbers from a new study released by
The negative side of the
Given the fact touristic flows have skyrocketed for the period 2012 to 2017, the negative win indicated by INSETE’s work should be a benchmark for any future sustainable tourism work in Greece. Official channels are keen to present huge numbers in support of Greece authorities and programs, but the reality of burgeoning Greek tourism can only be assessed looking at the overall impacts. I’ve highlighted previously some of the negative trends being set by companies like TUI, Thomas Cook, and others. Now the
This April report by
Seeing for once the actual numbers so vividly presented, it’s easier to imagine a Greece that is no longer coveted because of its culture and kindness, but one avoided for having become a German bean counter ecosystem and culture. Profit, growth for the sake of short and medium term gain, these realities will only sink in once the old Greece is destroyed to make way for 1,000 more all-inclusive feed troughs. Crete to Kos, the present model will end in unfriendly, underpaid peasants who cannot smile at their British or German guests anymore. Philoxenia, that quality of loving strangers Greece is so notorious for, it will mutate. The average hotel waiter in Greece, for instance, makes a bit less than €500 per month. Whereas
Looking at this report with a long view, the solution for Greece seems blazingly simple for me. The tour companies, officials, and even the hoteliers here in Greece all formulate their plans based on demand. For instance, the German inbound market is catered to not only because TUI is pushing it, but because hotels like those here on Crete want that guarantee. They need 99% occupancy even if it costs them their business. As crazy as it sounds, this is the reality. Why more hotels are not engaging Russia (€732 euro pp) and Austria (€700 euro pp), whose travelers spend more than any but the Americans, is anybody’s guess. Maybe there’s no Russian TUI to offer a chunk of revenue all at once?
Even if we look at the micro-economic impacts of this questionable tourism bonanza, huge questions remain unanswered by SETE, the GNTO, and even the WTTC. Once again these organizations’ affinity for big numbers obscures any real sustainable future. Take, for instance, the projections on job creation from this WTTC report. Let me quote directly here:
“Travel & Tourism generated 459,000 jobs directly in 2017 (12.2% of total employment) and this is forecast to grow by 5.2% in 2018 to 482,500 (12.4% of total employment)”
Finally, the reality for Greeks can be seen in how Greece compares to other countries in the total revenue gleaned from tourism. Italy, for instance, gained €106 billion euro in 2017, but Greece only eeked out €16.2 billion in direct contribution to GDP. Please take note here, this figure does not even meet the world or European Union average. And where overall contribution is concerned, matters are even worse since Greece is barely at 60% of the European norm. Tourism is creating jobs, but what salaries can be expected from a downward spiral price structure? How can Greek businesses survive on ever decreasing revenues? Take the WTTC report’s revelation that visitor exports, or the money tourists spend here, are not even on a par with Portugal, which has about the same population and GDP. Using the interactive below you can compare these export numbers to see how other countries compare.
The bottom line for Greeks and their situation cannot fully be portrayed without looking at all these figures skeptically. Another “for instance” from the WTTC report reflects growth for Greece from now until 2028 to be a lot less than Egypt, Malta, Turkey, Cyprus, and the world at large. Essentially, the numbers do not indicate what the vested interests say they indicate. Stagnation of the real win for Greek businesses is what I am seeing. This is indicated in the Visitor Exports (Another WTTC report) numbers in particular. With inflows skyrocketing in every other aspect, how can consistent 4% growth in tourist spend spell “sustainable?” It cannot. Let me say this again, it cannot. We have to do a better job of crunching the numbers, but more importantly, we must be more objective and think long term. Sustainable for the future does not mean until 2028, it means sustainable indefinitely. We cannot attain the solution by referencing business or government focused on profit now.