As summer ends, it is time to see how some of Europe’s more vulnerable economies fared on the tourism front, given how dependent they are on visitors’ cash.
We start with Italy, where the hotel owners association – Federalberghi – said it was alarmed by a five percent fall in hotel revenue between June and August compared to last year.
A slight rise in foreign visitors (+0.6 percent), was offset by fewer Italians holidaying at home (-0.6 percent).
Italian hotel and restaurant prices being 10 percent higher than the European average is one factor.
Euronews’ Giacomo Segantini says: “In Italy, when it rains, the saying goes: it’s the government’s fault. Federalberghi doesn’t go quite that far, but does put some of the blame on Rome. The hoteliers want to see a cut in the infamous ‘tourist tax’ per night – and an easing of the limits imposed on people paying in cash.”
Euronews’ Vicenc Batalla reports: “Tourism is Spain’s most profitable sector. In August, visitor numbers reached new record highs. British, French and Germans filled the Mediterranean beaches. But there’s constant fear about what happens if those countries’ economies slip back into recession and those people don’t have the money to travel.”
Between January and August, Spain had 45 million foreign visitors.
In August, for the first time the monthly total went over nine million.
Britons topped the list that month – at 2.1 million – just ahead of the French, followed by Germans, Italians and Portuguese.
The total of Russian visitors fell by over eight percent, due to the Ukraine crisis and the weak rouble.
But the numbers of Spaniards who felt confident – or flush enough – to take a holiday in their home country was up by more than three percent from August last year.
Greece too had a record year, and it needs it as tourism is expected to account for almost 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product this year.
One out of five Greeks who have a job works in the tourism industry.
Business correspondent in Athens Symela Touchtidou reports: “For Greece, tourism has always been the “strong card” of its economy and this year it saved the game. Around 21.5 million visitors are expected this year. They will pour 13.5 billion euros into the Greek economy. Greece absolutely needs those revenue as it struggles to get out of a six-year-long recession.”
Tourist numbers are up but the amount they are spending has not been rising so quickly as businesses have had to lower their prices this year to attract visitors and make up of the fact that the Greeks are spending much less on holidays – if they take them.
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