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Tourists avoid Greece fearing the consequences of the debt crisis

Published on May 28, 2012 by: in: Economy

The Europeans are afraid to book trips to Greece for their vacation, fearing the aftermath of the parliamentary elections planned for June 17. In the last weeks, the number of reservations dropped by half.

‘We have experienced a 50% decline in bookings since the elections on May 6,’ said George Drakopoulos, general director of the association regrouping Greek tourism enterprises (SETE). ‘The hotels have appealing offers, but that’s not the issue. For many of the tourists visiting Greece, it is a matter of security rather than money,’ he adds.

For the time being, Greece is engulfed by both economic and political crises. It’s the fifth year in a row since its economy is in recession. In the elections on May 6 neither of the parties received sufficient support to form a government. What the country needs is new elections that will decide whether Greece will continue its reforms or turn its back on them and, thus, may even be forced to leave the euro zone.

Greece is often rattled by strikes and protests which paralyze, for example, the public transport or block the airports. And the tourists don’t like it. Meanwhile, according to SETE, tourism represents 15,7% of Greece’s GDP and employs, directly or indirectly, 768 000 people.

picture: Widerbergs

Representatives of Greek tourism allege that the way Greece is portrayed in television does not depict the entire country. ‘Foreign media show troubles in Athens and neglect the rest of Greece, where conditions are completely different,’ said PanagiotisMoriatis, president of the association of hotel owners in Nafplion. He estimates that that business revenue this year may drop even by 15%.

For Drakopoulos, there is a noticeable drop in the arrivals from Germany, since it’s the Germans that the Greek blame for making them introduce Draconian measures.

‘Last year we had a 10% rise in German tourists. This year we have a 25 to 30% drop. German tourists are afraid that something may happen to them in Greece,’ reckons Drakopoulos.

But Sybille Zeuch of the German Travel Association (DRV) does not confirm such information. In her opinion, German bookings are on the rise for the last few weeks and if all goes well, the number of German tourists visiting Greece this year will not vary greatly from that of 2011, when Greece was visited by 2,5 million Germans.

Translation: Michał Kapko

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About Ryszard Petru

Economist, until recently director concerning strategy in BRE Bank. He was also an advisory to Leszek Balcerowicz and a specialist of the World Bank.

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