Motor caravan arrivals in N. Greece up by 30% this year

Motor caravan

Motorcaravan (RV) arrivals in northern Greece increased by 30% this summer, a businessman in Pylea, Thessaloniki, told AMNA.

Those arriving from Turkiye alone have increased by over 20%. At the same time, an increase also occurred in motorhome arrivals from Balkan countries, Antonis Zampetas, who runs an eponymous store in the greater Thessaloniki area, said.

Zampetas - who imports motor caravans and is also active in the camping supply sector - said the increase from Turkey was unprecedented. Still, arrivals from northern European countries had dropped by at least 15% compared to the previous year. He attributed the northern European drop to inflationary pressures in those countries and the significant rise in Greek ferry boat charges.

In terms of popularity, at least half (50%) of motorhome tourists prefer Chalkidiki, he said, while another 30% head to Pieria, the coastal region in Macedonia north and east of Mt. Olympus, and another 20% head to Mt. Pindos area, in NW Greece, a more excellent choice in the summer.

Based on the European Caravan Federation data, there were 3.47 million caravans and 2.42 million motor caravans in Europe in 2020, while the sector turnaround (including overnight camping fees, equipment, and spare parts) in 2022 totalled 120 billion euros, equal to Greece's gross national product (GNP).

Zampetas told ANA-MPA that tax for importers dropped as of January 2021 by 75%, he noted, from 20,000 euros to about 2,000-3,500 euros for used ones and nearly 5,000 euros for new ones. Since the new taxation, 250 motorhomes have been imported, compared to a stagnant market in earlier years.

He pointed out that the sector could contribute significantly to the Greek economy with little infrastructural investment but would require legislation, particularly for camper stops that will offer services such as refilling water tanks and emptying waste tanks. Currently, motor caravans are classified as private cars and may stop or park in the same places as private cars. But they cannot carry out camping activities such as open windows, unfurling tents and putting out tables and chairs, and a camper site with low rates and basic security would resolve this.

He added that essential private investment without services is as low as 500 euros, and he intends to present a related business plan to officials at the Tourism Ministry. Europe has nearly 20,000 camper stops; Greece has yet to have an official one.

"In Greece, there was always a demand for motorhomes, whether to buy or rent, but the lack of legislation and the excessive taxation amid the economic crisis in Greece froze the sector - thankfully did not destroy it," Zampetas explained. The economy would benefit from infrastructure in the sector, as many northern European travellers leave their countries in winter for warmer climates such as Spain and Portugal.

"200,000 German motorhome owners spend their winters in Spain every year, leaving an average of 1,000-1,500 euros per month and per family to their host country, while the Dutch and British prefer Portugal." Greece, on the other hand, can accommodate very few motorhomes at present, "missing valuable revenues from tourism on wheels," Zampetas underlined.

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