The number of tourists expected to visit Greece in 2020 is expected to dip slightly amidst signs that the sector's seven-year boom run may have come to an end.
Euromonitor International, a market research provider, says that it sees the number of tourists reaching Greek shores next year as easing 2 percent to 31.7 million, versus 32.4 million in 2019.
This pushes Greece's target for another record year in 2020 out of range as concerns also grow that the sector may not play the crucial role needed to help the economy expand by an ambitious 2.8 percent, as forecast by the government.
The expected drop in visitor numbers comes as macroeconomic uncertainties in the European and the global economy remain, despite a slight improvement in recent months. Greece's tourism sector is also still hurting from the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook last year while rival markets, such as Egypt, are performing strongly. Additionally, the industry is facing new risks from Greece's growing tensions with Turkey over an area that is at the heart of the tourism sector, Crete.
In contacts that Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis had in the US last week, positive messages emerged about 2020 but sector officials say they will be satisfied if they manage to hold onto last year's business. On the plus side, Euromonitor expects to see a 3.5 percent jump in the number of domestic tourists in Greece next year.
Tourism officials hope that an improvement to services in the last few years will help the sector confront headwinds. Greece's hospitality industry has also recently increased the number of loyal fans it has in large traditional markets, such as Germany, sources said.
Experts added that early estimates on how tourism will perform next year are subject to high risks and that data from bookings in the first few months of the year is needed to better determine how well the industry will perform next summer.