Visitor Numbers in Athens Are Up and Airbnb Rentals Take Lion’s Share

Visitor numbers and travel receipts increased considerably in Athens in the first quarter of 2019, especially from the US, but hotel occupancy languished.


The major increase in short-term holiday rentals in Athens and other large cities in Greece, and the rise in the popularity of city breaks are highlighted by Bank of Greece data on travelers and their expenditure in the first quarter of the year. Although the number of visitors and travel receipts increased considerably, the Attica hoteliers’ association reported a decline in occupancy and revenues in Q1.

Given that the January-March period does not draw sea-and-sun-seekers, and that winter tourism showed little change from previous years, it can be deduced that the increased number of arrivals were in Greece for city breaks, and a large portion of those visitors stayed at properties leased through online platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

At the same time there was particularly strong growth in visitors from the US and their spending in Greece. In the first quarter of the year, US visitors spent 75.5 million euros, an increase of 118.9 percent over the same period last year, taking them up to the second spot in terms of spending by nationality after the Germans.

According to provisional BoG figures, travel receipts posted a remarkable 37.2 percent increase from the first quarter of 2018, reaching 760 million euros. Receipts from German visitors grew 9.5 percent to 85.1 million euros, while takings from British tourists soared 79.5 percent to 75 million euros. Receipts from French visitors jumped 55.3 percent to 27.1 million euros.

Incoming traffic rose 7.8 percent to 1.936 million visitors, from 1.796 million in Q1 of 2018, with travelers from the US increasing 47.4 percent to 104,000 and British visitors rising 41.8 percent to 143,000.

Yet despite that increase, occupancy in the capital’s hotels declined by 6.8 percent over the same period, according to the data of the Athens-Attica and Argosaronic Hoteliers Association and GBR Consulting. The same figures also revealed a 6.8 percent decline in revenues per available room in Attica.

This article was originally published at ekathimerini.com.


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