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Greek Tourism Industry’s Downward Spiral …

  • July 7th, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

img_0658.JPGA recent spike in tourism bookings may be too little too late for the struggling sector, writes Jane Schon.

WHERE IS THE SUNSHINE?

Its summer again in Athens and at least in the Plaka (a popular tourist area) it seems it’s business as usual, but under the surface it looks a lot less sunny.

Greece’s tourism industry is reporting further losses entering into the second half of this year; despite an improvement in bookings following the recent elections.

Tourism representatives say there was an increased flow of bookings from overseas visitors after the June 17 polls. However, they insist it is too late to generate a long lasting effect on the year’s figures.

The number of foreign package holiday-makers has dropped by 15%, while bookings for hotels, campsites and yachts have experienced up to a 50% against previous times.

They insist they have seen a significant decline compared to 2011, and reports indicate the industry will most likely continue in negative territory until the end of this year.

THE HOTELIER

Konstantinos Tsiaktanis, owner of the Metropolis Hotel located in Athens, says the news media have placed uncertainty in the minds of tourists, about whether Greece is a safe destination.

“Journalists have created some images that [show] Athens is in flames, people are afraid… So they avoid Athens because they don’t know what is going on; firstly,” he says.

“Secondly I think that even if there are no demonstrations or problems people won’t come because they want to get away from their problems not come and share someone else’s.

“When the media is trying to sell they sell something that can be sold. You know, sunny beaches and long white sands doesn’t sell very easily but a flaming bottle to a store sells more easy.

“So yes they have exaggerated in some things.”

A dentist by training, he says he is not dissuaded from staying in the tourist industry  -  but not all operators have the same sense of mission.

THE TRAVEL AGENT

Argyris Kravaritis, a travel agent working in Athens, says he is looking for new opportunities.

“I will be moving to America after a couple of months because here I think we are going to have a very bad winter,” he says.

“For now, for the summer time it’s ok – it’s so-so actually – but in the winter time it will be very, very bad here in Athens.”

He says come winter the demonstrations and riots will start again and cause unrest once more.

COLD BREATH OF WINTER

“Things – from what I can understand – will go in that direction again, as it was two or three years now.

“Since 2008 we have a lot of riots in Athens. [They’re] mainly in winter. It seems like the youngsters or the people who provoke the riots are gone 40 days during the summer because in the summer time everything is alright.”

Demonstrations in Winter will continue to cause headaches for tourism operators, and until stability returns the future remains uncertain.

Picture Laura Ludwig

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