The UN’s World Tourism Organisation has announced that it will re-examine the large discrepancy in Greece’s tourism numbers versus tourism earnings for 2016 provided by the Bank of Greece.
UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai will be sending a delegation of experts to Athens next month to examine the data but stressed he did not doubt the accuracy of the data but rather felt that different methodologies were employed in their calculation.
“When you have 27-28 million arrivals you cannot possibly have only 13 billion in receipts. There is something wrong,” Rifai told Greek media adding that he is not sure if the money tourists spend on food, shopping and entertainment are being taken under consideration in the “basket of calculations” in Greece.
“Right now the data suggests an average expenditure per tourist of less than $500 per visit while the international average is $1,000. Something is wrong, it doesn’t add up. It cannot be that Greece is so cheap and even the difference in the hotel prices does not make up for it,” he said.
But according to the Greek Ministry of Tourism expat Greeks visiting Greece for holiday “are not counted” as tourists and therefore their tourism spendings are not calculated.
“By definition you are considered a tourist if your income is from outside the country, because the whole idea of tourism receipts is how much tourism contributes to bringing money inside the country,” Rifai explained.
The UNWTO’s mission of experts will seek to work together with the Greek Tourism Ministry, the Hellenic Statistical Authority and the Bank of Greece. “All three parties must come together and show us what they are doing and how they are doing it,” Rifai said, adding that a correction of the figures or the production of new ones would take until the end of the year.