Greece is bracing itself for the impact of Brexit on tourism numbers in 2017. In 2015 some 2.4 million British citizens visited Greece, up from 1.7 million in 2011. Just over 900,000 British citizens visited Greece in the first six months of 2016, up by over 13 per cent over the same period of 2015, and representing 12.5 per cent of all visitors to Greece.
Visitors from Germany form the largest group with 2.8 million visitors in 2015, up from 2.2 million in 2011. Yet in the first six months of 2016, Germany just fell behind the UK with 888,000 visitors, a modest increase of 0.8 per cent over the same period of 2015, but still representing 11.9 per cent of all visitors to Greece.
Most British tourists stay in Greece for at least six nights, and Germans for seven. In contrast visitors from France and Italy only tend to stay for four nights on average. The most recent value per ‘tourist night’ in Greece is $316; British tourists tend to spend more than this ‘average’.
This suggests that UK tourists were worth at least some $757 million (700 million Euros) to the Greek economy in 2015, and some estimates have suggested that it was worth as much as 2 billion Euros. The projection for 2016 is just under $800 million.
However, the fall in the value of the pound against the Euro will make holidays in Europe in 2017 considerably more expensive for British tourists. A fall of 10 per cent of British visitors will hit the Greek tourist industry with a loss of around $70 million. In such a market, hotels and holiday lets in Greece may be forced to accept lower prices or risk having empty properties with no income.
A holiday in the UK may not be a cheap alternative. The fall in the pound is likely to make Britain an increasingly ‘cheap’ destination, and UK accommodation will be at a premium. And the destabilisation of the wider European economy due to Brexit may discourage some European visitors from taking their holidays in Greece.
Professor Gills presentation on “Heritage and austerity: UNESCO World Heritage sites, tourism and Greece” is available on academia.edu