There’s no doubt that many formerly crowded European holiday spots have become quieter in recent years. The likes of Spain and Greece have been major destinations since the mid-20th century, but economic and political instability have shaken this image and left some holidaymakers with all sorts of worries about their summer break.
However, as we move into the 2013 summer season, it seems that the sun is coming out from behind that cloud of doom and gloom.
For a start, it’s the tourist sector as a whole which has suffered from credit crunch blues, it’s not just been localised to certain countries; the last couple of years have seen tourist numbers drop as people count their pennies and take ‘staycations’ in response to the global crisis. A number of currencies – including the British pound – have ended up losing some of their value.
In fact, Greece is one of the countries which has been especially active in their holiday incentives. Eurozone visitors may have gone down in numbers, but those coming from nearby Balkan states have increased. Greek hotels from the mainland down to Corfu have been cutting room rates dramatically in an effort to appeal to bargain-hunters, which is a term that seems to apply to people from all walks of life since the global crisis.
What’s more, tourists are given a warm welcome during these times; as the tourism industry is worth 15-18% GDP in Greece, appealing to visitors can only help local businesses pick themselves up again. At the close of last year, worries over an abrupt change in currency faded and although some economists still predict a Greek exit from the Euro in 2014, it’s unlikely to occur any time soon.
Further west, Spain’s unemployment problems and banking crisis have been well documented. While the start of the present holiday season has eased this somewhat, changes in the service industry continue, as shop and café-owners stay open in the cities instead of heading for the coast in August. This is partly due to lack of holiday budget, but the upshot for incoming tourists is that local companies will continue to support their customer base and encourage visitors. With prices on the street much lower than in the past, Spanish holidays are looking more affordable than ever.
Generally, 2013 is reckoned to be a stronger year for tourism in countries like Greece and Spain compared to the dip of the past few years. Good holiday insurance can protect against worst-case scenarios such as strikes and governmental collapse and for those wise enough to book cheap flights and travel through suppliers in their native country, refunds and alternative arrangements are likely to be much easier.
In addition, the up-side of these developments means that fewer crowds await in Crete, you may not be fighting to get to the bar quite so much in Magaluf and you may find more room for your towel on the beaches of the Costa del Sol. And since none of these places have lost the natural charms and temperate climate which enticed foreign visitors in the first place, the road to economic recovery could very well be lined with opportunities for the savvy traveller.
Costa Del Sol image by kiko_ced used under creative commons licence.