Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thinking Through My Vote for the May 6 Elections in Greece

Elections can be very anticlimactic: after more than two years of living under siege, the Greek people are expected to channel their immense frustration and anger by putting an envelope into a box. Yet as we approach May 6, it is also clear that after complaining about everything under the sun – corruption, politicians, the troika, the Germans, speculators, high taxes, tax evasion, rising crime – the political system is now telling the average citizen, “OK, what do you want? No more pretenses, no more whining and yelling. What do you actually want?” And the answer to that question is incredibly complicated. 

My sense is that it is incredibly complicated for two reasons. The first is that the stakes are enormous. Politicians often say that their country is “at a crossroads” or that their country “has to choose between two paths.” Mostly, this is hot air. But in this election, it is clearly true. Faced with the deepest political, economic, social and moral crisis that most Greeks have ever experienced, our choice does matter greatly. One can imagine a very wide range of outcomes after the election – from a gradual degeneration of the state and society to a rapid return to economic growth and prosperity. Rarely are the stakes so high in an election. 

If importance is one reason, ambivalence is another. It is hard to know exactly what we’re voting for. Are we voting for the rival programs of the different parties? Are we voting in favor of or merely against something? Are we going to the polls to pick a future or to condemn the past? Does our vote even matter since the two big parties both supported the second bailout? Are we meant to vote for whom we like best or should we vote strategically given what the polls say? If the parliament has eight or nine parties, will our country even be governable? 

These are haunting questions for a people to ask just a few days before an election. But they are also real questions that deserve serious thinking. I can’t pretend I have all the answers but I too have been wrestling with those questions as I prepare to cast my vote next Sunday. So I wanted to share what conclusions I have reached over the past few weeks. 

First, I do think that these elections matter and matter a lot. Yes, our government has made a series of commitments to the Europeans and to the IMF, and these commitments limit the sovereignty of any new government. But we shouldn’t fool ourselves. We have many choices that remain – choices both within our current path and outside of it. There are always choices. One of the refreshing consequences of the current crisis is how vigorously we have been able to debate ideas that were merely taboo a few years ago. But the crisis has also shown that in desperation, no idea sounds too crazy; and the more desperate the people, the more open they are to crazy ideas. 

So yes, we have choices – many choices. We can choose to unilaterally default on all our loans. We can choose to leave the Eurozone and even the European Union. We can debase our own wealth. We can choose to raise taxes on the rich and we can use the system to confiscate their property. We can prosecute politicians whether or not they are corrupt. We can send the police to round up immigrants and expel them. We can close our borders and try to shut ourselves from the forces of international competition. We have many choices indeed and no one should underestimate just how wide the field of action has become. 

Even within the memorandum, we have choices. The memorandum is a live document – it is negotiated and re-negotiated, as conditions change, as targets are met or missed, and it has to be implemented. If the last two years taught us anything, it is that no country can improve its lot merely by signing a piece of paper (although it can certainly worsen it). Implementation, a commitment to change, competency and courage – these are all important even when the destination is fixed. But the destination is hardly fixed so they become more important still. 

With so many choices, do we vote for whom we want or do we vote based on what we read in the polls? In general, I think there is a case for a “strategic vote,” but only in limited cases. I can see the argument for a strategic vote in the 2000 US Elections for example when a vote for Ralph Nader could (and did) help elect George W. Bush. 

But in today’s Greece, it doesn’t make sense because there are too many permutations. A strategic vote is sensible when you can foresee the consequences of your actions (it was easy to see, for example, that a vote for Nader would aid Bush). But with so many parties trying to enter parliament and with so many possible post-election coalitions, trying to vote by thinking about everyone else’s vote becomes mentally exhausting. All strategic votes distort elections, but in Greece’s case, too many strategic votes risk creating an outcome that is wildly disconnected from reality. 

There is another reason I don’t like strategic voting. In a country with as much complexity and fluidity as Greece, it is an easy way out. By spending hours upon hours thinking about outcomes, you can easily miss the big picture – you can miss that you are called on to vote on what you think the future of Greece should be. “I voted for x because I thought that other people would vote for y” is in general not a very thoughtful answer and it is even less so today. 

Having tackled these two questions – do the elections matter and whether or not one should vote strategically – we then have to start thinking about who to vote for. I think this is a two-step process (assuming you don’t have a selfish reason to vote for someone, in which case you probably haven’t been tortured by all the doubts above anyway). First question is: do I vote for one of the big parties? If not, which of the smaller votes do I vote for? 

In my mind, there is no reason to vote for PASOK. What exactly is PASOK asking for? “Vote for us so that we can actually do all those things that we said we were going to do in 2010 and 2011 but didn’t actually do?” I can’t see anyone voting for PASOK, which is one reason their numbers are pitiful. What about New Democracy? The question is: do you trust Antonis Samaras? All the signs he has given us over the past few years is that his desire to become prime minister will outweigh any other philosophical or political position that he holds. I listen to his campaign speeches and he is talking about how great New Democracy is doing and how we wants to rule alone. These are not the instincts I want in a leader. 

If not PASOK and ND, then you ask a second question: what is the root of our current crisis? If you think the problem is international capitalism, the Eurozone, speculators, the banks and the rich, you have several good choices on the left. If you think the problem is that Greece’s moral values and security is assaulted by immigrants and lawlessness, you have several choices on the right. And if you think the problem is a gluttonous state and ridiculous protections in the marketplace, you have several centrist and center-right choices to pick from. 

There is one thing I would add here. Politics is about choices. You can’t have it all. You have to do things and you have to not do things. You have to prioritize, to make tough calls, to inflict pain and to be prepared to be unpopular. You have to weigh trade-offs and make sacrifices. PASOK’s failure in 2011 was in part a failure to make choices. Ii wanted it all. It wanted to dismantle the clientelism that it had created and yet still be elected by its historical supporters. It chose everything and so, in the end, it chose nothing. We have no more time for choosing nothing. 

So who am I voting for? For me, the choice has been clear: Stefanos Manos and his DRASSI party (running in partnership with the Greek Liberals.) Anyone who has read my blog will hardly be surprised. Manos is by far the most sensible and consistent Greek politician. He has the most accurate diagnosis of what went wrong, he understands the need and is willing to campaign on the promise to shrink the state and has liberal instincts that will create a space for the private sector to breathe and ultimately thrive. That’s what I want for Greece and no one best represents that hope than him. 

In the end, voting is an act of courage. We tend to forget this, especially in established, parliamentary democracies. It is a boring and simple act, but most big acts are simple if not boring. What I hope for on May 6 is that the country goes to the polls with what Barrack Obama termed “the audacity of hope.” Hope is a feeling that the country desperately needs. But more than that it needs audacity to rebel, to imagine, and to stand up to the fear of change. It has been our fear of change that has condemned us to our current misery. Our fear to compete and our fear to live without the shelter of the state. Voting for Stefanos Manos is my act of audacity on May 6.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Who Bailed Out Whom in Greece?

We often say that “Greece got a bailout.” But is that really accurate? If you think you understand the Greek bailout, I would suggest you take a close look at the numbers below. What I have tried to do is look at Greece’s finances for 2010 and 2011 to answer three questions: how much money did Greece need in 2010 and 2011? For what purpose? And who provided that money? The answers are really interesting. 

The analysis is based almost exclusively on published reports by the International Monetary Fund. Since the numbers do not quite add up (in the IMF’s own documents!), I have made some minor adjustments and I have also, in one case, made an estimate (the split between interest paid to foreign investors versus Greek investors). Where possible, I have consulted third-party sources such as the Bank of International Settlements. I believe the margin of error in the calculations is pretty small. 

First, let’s examine Greece’s financing needs. Broadly speaking, a government has four cash needs: (1) to finance expenditures (wages, pensions, services, etc); (2) to pay interest to holders of debt; (3) to repay investors whose debt is maturing; and (4) to finance one-off needs, which for Greece, the IMF defined as including “bank assistance and stock-flow adjustments.” 

Overall, Greece needed about €114 bn in 2010 and 2011. Of that, however, only €53 bn stayed in Greece to finance government spending, provide assistance to banks, pay interest to Greek creditors or repay maturing bonds held by Greeks. More than half of Greece’s cash needs, or €61 bn, went to either pay interest to foreign creditors or repay maturing debt held by foreigners. 

Now let’s look at where this money came from. Around €41 bn came from private investors, of which 80% were Greek. The rest of the money, €73 bn, came from the bailout provided by the official sector. Germany, France and Italy supplied €36.6 bn, the rest of the Eurozone members provided €16.5 bn, and the IMF provided €19.9 bn. 

Looking at the numbers this way, the EU and the IMF gave Greece €73 bn, of which €61 bn went to pay foreign investors who held Greek debt (via interest payments or via receiving cash when their bonds matured). If you mentally split the world between Greece and the rest, then Greece needed €53 bn “for itself” to pay the bills, pay interest to its own investors and honor the debt held by its own people. 

The Greek government was able to raise €41 bn of that €53 bn from private investors in the market (in fairness, this was partly aided by the European Central Bank making cheap credit available to Greek banks). But in a very narrow way, the cash provided by foreign governments and the IMF to support Greeks per se was roughly €12 bn – the rest went to foreigners. Even if you assume that all market financing was made possible by ECB-funding, more than half the assistance was still geared to foreign investors. 

I have no intention to draw any grand conclusions from this analysis. But it is important to precise when we talk about matters that have acquired an extraordinary political and emotional significance. And instead of merely saying “Greece gets a bailout” we can be more accurate about who is providing how much money and for what purpose. This crisis requires nothing less of us.

Ποιος Διέσωσε Ποιόν στο Μνημόνιο;

Λέμε συχνά ότι «η Ελλάδα πήρε ένα πακέτο διάσωσης». Αλλά τι εννοούμε; Εάν νομίζετε ότι καταλαβαίνετε καλά το πρώτο μνημόνιο, θα σας πρότεινα να δείτε προσεκτικά τους παρακάτω αριθμούς. 

Έχω προσπαθήσει να αναλύσω τα χρηματοοικονομικά της χώρας για να απαντήσω σε τρία ερωτήματα: πόσα χρήματα χρειαζόταν η Ελλάδα για να καλύψει τις ανάγκες της το 2010 και το 2011; Για την κάλυψη ποιων συγκεκριμένων αναγκών τα χρειαζόταν; Και ποιος τα παρείχε; 

Η ανάλυση βασίζεται σχεδόν αποκλειστικά στις εκθέσεις του Διεθνούς Νομισματικού Ταμείου. Επειδή οι αριθμοί δεν ταυτίζονται πάντα (ούτε στα έγγραφα του ίδιου του ΔΝΤ!), έχω κάνει κάποιες μικρές προσαρμογές και έχω επίσης, σε μία περίπτωση, κάνει μια εκτίμηση (όταν διαχωρίζω την πληρωμή των τόκων μεταξύ των ξένων και των Ελλήνων επενδυτών). Όπου είναι δυνατόν, έχω βασιστεί και σε άλλες πηγές όπως η Τράπεζα Διεθνών Διακανονισμών. Πιστεύω ότι το περιθώριο λάθους στους υπολογισμούς είναι μικρό. 

Οι απαντήσεις που προκύπτουν είναι πολύ ενδιαφέρουσες.

Μια κυβέρνηση έχει τέσσερις ανάγκες χρηματοδότησης: (α) την κάλυψη δαπανών (μισθοί, συντάξεις, κλπ), (β) την καταβολή τόκων στους κατόχους ομολόγων, (γ) την αποπληρωμή ομολόγων που λήγουν και (δ) τη χρηματοδότηση έκτακτων αναγκών, που για την Ελλάδα (κατά το ΔΝΤ) σημαίνει κυρίως στήριξη προς τις τράπεζες και άλλες προσαρμογές. 

Το 2010 και 2011, η Ελλάδα χρειάζονταν περίπου € 114 δις, από τα οποία μόνο €53 δις αφορούσαν για τη χρηματοδότηση κρατικών δαπανών, την υποστήριξη των τραπεζών, την πληρωμή των τόκων προς τους Έλληνες πιστωτές ή την αποπληρωμή ομολόγων που κατείχαν Έλληνες. Άρα, περισσότερο από το ήμισυ των αναγκών της Ελλάδας για χρήματα (€ 61 δις) προορίζονταν για ξένους πιστωτές, είτε σε μορφή τόκων είτε σε μορφή εξόφλησης χρέους που έληγε. 

Από πού προήλθαν αυτά τα χρήματα; Περίπου € 41 δις προήλθαν από ιδιώτες επενδυτές, από τους οποίους το 80% ήταν Έλληνες. Το υπόλοιπο των χρημάτων (€73 δις) το παρείχε η Τρόικα: η Γερμανία, η Γαλλία και η Ιταλία παρείχαν €36,6 δις, τα λοιπά μέλη της Ευρωζώνης € 16,5 δις, και το ΔΝΤ € 19,9 δις. 

Εξετάζοντας τους αριθμούς με αυτόν τον τρόπο, προκύπτει ότι η Ευρωζώνη και το ΔΝΤ έδωσαν στην Ελλάδα € 73 δις, εκ των οποίων €61 δις πήγαν σε ξένους επενδυτές που κατείχαν ελληνικά ομόλογα (μέσω εξόφλησης τόκων ή αποπληρωμής ομολόγων). Έτσι, η Ελλάδα χρειάζονταν μόνο € 53 δις «για τον εαυτό της» - για να πληρώσει λογαριασμούς και για να ανταποκριθεί στους Έλληνες επενδυτές. 

Από αυτά τα € 53 δις, η ελληνική κυβέρνηση μπόρεσε να δανειστεί από την αγορά € 41 δις (εν μέρει με τη βοήθεια δανείων από την Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα προς τις ελληνικές τράπεζες). Άρα, τα χρήματα που χορήγησαν οι ξένες κυβερνήσεις και το ΔΝΤ για τη στήριξη των Ελλήνων αυτών καθ’αυτών ήταν € 12 δις - το υπόλοιπο πήγε σε ξένους. Ακόμα κι αν υποθέσουμε ότι το σύνολο της χρηματοδότησης από την αγορά οφείλεται στην ΕΚΤ, περισσότερο από το ήμισυ της βοήθειας εξακολουθεί να προορίζεται για τους ξένους επενδυτές. 

Δεν θέλω να βγάλω τρελά συμπεράσματα από αυτή την ανάλυση. Αλλά καλό είναι να είμαστε ακριβείς, κυρίως για θέματα με εξαιρετική πολιτική και συναισθηματική σημασία. Αντί να λέμε απλώς ότι «η Ελλάδα πήρε ένα πακέτο διάσωσης» θα μπορούσαμε να είμαστε πιο αναλυτικοί σχετικά με το ποιος παρέχει πόσα χρήματα και για ποιο σκοπό. Η σοβαρότητα της κρίσης το απαιτεί.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Question to Ask Greek Politicians

When a country nears an election, it is natural to ask politicians, “what will you do if elected?” But in the run up to the May 6 election, the Greek people should ask a different question: “what do you think went wrong?” The answer will convey more information than slogans, promises or programs. To survive this crisis and to tolerate the hardships that still lie ahead, the Greek people need a narrative about what happened and how the country will escape its misery. And a grand narrative begins with a diagnosis.

The political elites, as a whole, have offered an answer: “everything.” Corruption, clientelism, unaccountability, tax evasion, the big Greek state, false statistics, PASOK, New Democracy, Papandreou (Andreas and/or George), Karamanlis, the Olympic Games, the European Union, Merkel, Sarkozy, the IMF, the common currency, the Americans, cheap money, low interest rates, the rating agencies, foreign banks, speculators, globalization – everything went wrong. The problem, of course, with the answer “everything” is that it is synonymous with “nothing.” When everything is at fault, nothing is at fault. “Everything” is not a good enough answer. Greek politicians ought to do better.

In my mind, there are three ways to make sense of this crisis, which although interlinked, offer different interpretations of this crisis. The first way is to see this crisis as a crisis of leadership, Greek and European. If only Greece hadn’t elected Kostas Karamanlis in 2004 or in 2007; or if it hadn’t elected George Papandreou in 2009; or if its politicians had been less corrupt, more honest and more capable; or if Europe had more decisive leaders during this crisis; if Angela Merkel weren’t so timid and the European Central Bank so rigid; if Europe had a leader that could articulate a vision for the Continent and forge a comprehensive solution to this crisis from the beginning – if, if, if – none of this would happened.

A second way is to see this crisis as a crisis of design, global or European. The capitalist system is whimsical. Capital can move too quickly and easily from place to place, with few restrictions or regulations. Markets are undemocratic and can punish governments that are impotent vis-à-vis banks, speculators and credit agencies. Even the Eurozone is systemically flawed, cobbling together countries that should not have a common currency. With cheap money and with no ability to depreciate its currency, is it any wonder that Greece is defenseless against the whirlwinds of global capital?

A third way is to see this crisis as a crisis of Greek culture. For at least thirty years, the Greek people have developed a political system that disconnected work from reward. It is a system that is afraid of markets and that leans on government to provide employment and social services – at least in theory, since in practice government services are both overly costly and substandard. It is a system meant to protect the “little man,” although in practice, the little man either lives very well without having to work very hard or struggles while working long hours – all the while, the privileged minority shirks its tax-paying duties and uses the political system to defend its prerogatives. This crisis was long coming – no leader or design could have averted it.

Of course, all three explanations contain some truth (readers of this blog will know I like answer #3). But in such a fundamental crisis, the language that politicians use to describe the past will be as important as anything they say about the future. Each explanation carries different policy prescriptions, signifies different levels of moral and politician responsibility and reveals different instincts about what went wrong and what needs to happen. More than any one policy or program, Greece needs a leader who “gets it” and who has an that offers an answer to the question that every Greek is asking: “how the hell did we end up like this?”

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tourism Continues to Disappoint in Greece

Make a list with industries on which Greece can rely to generate growth, and tourism will inevitably rank near the top. Yet tourism has been a massive disappointment in recent years. A recovery in the Greek economy will require a recovery in tourism – and a recovery in tourism will require changes in the way that the industry operates today.

The first few lines in the table above show the number of tourists visiting Greece, as reported by the Bank of Greece. This number grew by 2.2% on average between 2005 and 2011. Interestingly, the composition of those visitors changed in that time period. In 2005, 50% of the visitors came from the Eurozone; by 2011, that share had dropped to 40%. There was also a (more modest) decline in visitors from EU counties outside the Eurozone. These declines, however, were more than offset by a big increase (10% a year) in arrivals from other countries (chiefly, Russia, Israel, Turkey, and the Balkans).

This number shows that Greece does not have a problem attracting tourists – more people visited Greece in 2011 than in 2005. It also seems to contradict the idea that an appreciation in the Euro made Greece less attractive as a destination – in fact, tourism from Eurozone countries fell while tourism from other countries increased. More worryingly, Greece’s market share is declining. In 2005, Greece’s global market share was 1.8%, and that declined to 1.7% in 2011. Its market share in Southern Europe also declined from 9.4% in 2005 to 9% in 2011. So while Greece is receiving more tourists, it is not keeping up with the growth in global tourism or with its neighbors. And so the country is losing market share.

This is a problem, but it is not the major problem. The next line in the table shows receipts as reported by the Bank of Greece. Overall, Greece earned as much from tourism in 2011 as it did in 2005 (modest decline). So while tourism made up 21% of exports in 2005, it made up just 18.6% in 2011 (continuing a steady decline from 25% in 2000). What is more, a euro in 2011 buys less than a euro in 2005: when controlling for inflation, Greece’s 2011 receipts were 20% lower than in 2005.

Given that Greece is receiving more tourists, lower revenues are a result of value (how much tourists spend) rather than volume (how many come). Here again, there are two trends. First, tourists in 2011 spent 14% less time in Greece than in 2005. Second, tourists spend as much per night as they did in the past – but again, only on a nominal basis. On a real basis, spending per night fell by 18% relative to 2005.

The numbers suggest that Greece has been able to receive more tourists, although its market share is declining, both globally as well as regionally. The problem is an inability to keep tourists longer or to charge them more. In fact, Greece is unable to keep raising prices at the pace of overall inflation. Insofar as goods and services cost more, the result is that tourists buy less – on a nominal basis, they spend the same amount of money per night as they did in 2005.

Therefore, the problem is one of “race-to-bottom” competition based chiefly on price. Tourists spend as much money per night as they did in 2005 – but on a real basis, that money yields much less in terms of goods and services for the tourists and for the Greeks receiving this money. Greece is unable to extract more from tourists either by offering them higher value services or by providing them with more things to do, which would make them spend more time in Greece.

What these numbers underscore is a real need to upgrade the offering of tourism in Greece. The growth of tourists has been good but slower than the growth in the overall market. Strikes and fears of violence obviously do not help, but these do not seem to have held the number of arrivals down. Instead the problem is one of offering: the challenge is for Greece to provide more activities and options so that people stay longer while also attracting higher-value tourists that will spend more money on any given night. As long as Greece is merely offering the same thing at the same price (or cheaper due to inflation), the decline of Greek tourism will continue.

Ο Ελληνικός Τουρισμός Εξακολουθεί να Απογοητεύει

Η ανάκαμψη της ελληνικής οικονομίας απαιτεί και την ανάκαμψη του ελληνικού τουρισμού, ο οποίος αποτελεί μια τεράστια απογοήτευση τα τελευταία χρόνια. Και η ανάκαμψη του τουρισμού απαιτεί αλλαγές στον τρόπο με τον οποίο λειτουργεί ο κλάδος σήμερα.

Ο πίνακας παρουσιάζει τα βασικά στοιχεία του τουρισμού στην Ελλάδα. Από το 2005 ως το 2011, ο αριθμός των τουριστών αυξήθηκε κατά 2,2% ετησίως. Ωστόσο, η σύνθεση των επισκεπτών έχει αλλάξει. Το 2005, το 50% των επισκεπτών προέρχονταν από την Ευρωζώνη, το μερίδιο της οποίας μειώθηκε σε 40% το 2011. Υπήρξε επίσης μια (μικρότερη) μείωση των επισκεπτών από χώρες της ΕΕ εκτός Ευρωζώνης. Οι μειώσεις αυτές αντισταθμίστηκαν από τη μεγάλη αύξηση (10% ετησίως) των επισκεπτών από άλλες χώρες (κυρίως τη Ρωσία, το Ισραήλ, την Τουρκία και τις Βαλκανικές χώρες).

Η Ελλάδα δεν έχει πρόβλημα να προσελκύσει τουρίστες καθώς οι επισκέπτες αυξήθηκαν από το 2005 ως το 2011. Επίσης, οι αριθμοί αντικρούουν την υπόθεση ότι η ανατίμηση του ευρώ έκανε την Ελλάδα λιγότερο ελκυστική ως προορισμό - στην πραγματικότητα, ο τουρισμός από τις χώρες της Ευρωζώνης μειώθηκε, ενώ ο τουρισμός από τις άλλες χώρες αυξήθηκε. Πιο ανησυχητικό είναι το γεγονός ότι το μερίδιο αγοράς της Ελλάδας έχει πέσει από 1,8% παγκοσμίως το 2005 σε 1,7% το 2011, και από 9,4% στη Νότια Ευρώπη το 2005 σε 9% το 2011. Έτσι, ενώ η Ελλάδα δέχεται περισσότερους τουρίστες, η αύξηση δεν συμβαδίζει με την αύξηση του παγκόσμιου τουρισμού ή με την αύξηση στις γειτονικές χώρες.

Αυτό είναι πρόβλημα, αλλά δεν είναι το μείζον πρόβλημα. Η επόμενη γραμμή του πίνακα δείχνει τα έσοδα από τον τουρισμό, σύμφωνα με τους υπολογισμούς της Τράπεζας της Ελλάδος. Συνολικά, η Ελλάδα εισέπραξε τα ίδια χρήματα από τον τουρισμό το 2011 όπως και το 2005 (μικρή μείωση).Αλλά ενώ ο τουρισμός κάλυψε το 21% των εξαγωγών το 2005, το μερίδιο αυτό έπεσε στο 18,6% το 2011 (συνεχίζοντας μια μείωση από το 25% το 2000). Επίσης, ένα ευρώ το 2011 έχει μικρότερη αξία από ένα ευρώ το 2005: σε πραγματικές τιμές, τα έσοδα από τον τουρισμό έπεσαν κατά 20% μεταξύ του 2005 και του 2011.

Δεδομένου ότι η Ελλάδα δέχεται περισσότερους τουρίστες, η μείωση των εσόδων είναι αποτέλεσμα διαφοροποίησης στην αξία (πόσα ξοδεύουν οι τουρίστες) και όχι στον όγκο (πόσοι έρχονται). Εδώ πάλι, υπάρχουν δύο τάσεις. Πρώτον, οι τουρίστες το 2011 έμειναν στην Ελλάδα για λιγότερες μέρες σε σχέση με το 2005 (πτώση 14%). Δεύτερον, οι τουρίστες ξοδεύουν τα ίδια χρήματα ανά διανυκτέρευση όπως και στο παρελθόν - αλλά, αν υπολογίσουμε τον πληθωρισμό, οι δαπάνες ανά διανυκτέρευση έπεσαν κατά 18% σε σχέση με το 2005.

Οι αριθμοί δείχνουν ότι η Ελλάδα μπόρεσε να δεχθεί περισσότερους τουρίστες, αν και το μερίδιο της στην αγορά μειώνεται, τόσο σε παγκόσμιο όσο και σε περιφερειακό επίπεδο. Το πρόβλημα είναι η ανικανότητα της χώρας να κρατήσει τους τουρίστες για περισσότερο χρόνο ή να τους κάνει να ξοδέψουν περισσότερα χρήματα. Οι τουρίστες δαπανούν το ίδια χρήματα ανά διανυκτέρευση όπως το 2005 - αλλά τα χρήματα αυτά παρέχουν λιγότερα αγαθά και λιγότερες υπηρεσίες για τους τουρίστες, όπως και για τους Έλληνες που λαμβάνουν αυτά τα χρήματα. Η Ελλάδα συνεπώς δεν είναι σε θέση να αποκομίσει περισσότερα από τουρίστες είτε προσφέροντας τους υπηρεσίες υψηλότερης αξίας ή παρέχοντάς τους περισσότερες επιλογές για να τους ωθήσουν να μείνουν περισσότερο στη χώρα.

Η Ελλάδα χρειάζεται να αναβαθμίσει το τουρισμό της. Η αύξηση του αριθμού των τουριστών είναι θετική, αν και είναι χαμηλότερη από την αύξηση στην ευρύτερη αγορά. Οι απεργίες και οι φόβοι για τη βίας προφανώς δεν βοηθούν την κατάσταση, αν δεν φαίνεται να έχουν περιορίσει τον αριθμό των αφίξεων, που εξακολουθούν να αυξάνονται. Αντίθετα, η πρόκληση για την Ελλάδα είναι να παρέχει περισσότερες δραστηριότητες ώστε οι άνθρωποι να παραμείνουν περισσότερο στο χώρα, ενώ χρειάζεται επίσης να προσελκύσει επισκέπτες υψηλότερης αξίας που θα δαπανήσουν περισσότερα χρήματα ανά διανυκτέρευση. Όσο η Ελλάδα προσφέρει το ίδιο πράγμα στην ίδια τιμή (ή φθηνότερα, λόγω του πληθωρισμού), η πτώση του ελληνικού τουρισμού θα συνεχιστεί.