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Ioannis Retsos: Greece Will Not Survive out of the Eurozone

26 July 2010 / 16:07:03  GRReporter
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The absence of strikes in tourism shows that it is functioning properly, but the state has no strategy for its most important sector which contributes nearly one-fifth of the gross domestic product of Greece, said the president of the Athens-Attica Hotels Association in an interview with Maria S. Topalova

Mr. Retsos, you are president of the Association of Hoteliers in Athens and the Attica region. Can you tell us which are your members? How many hotels are members of the Association?

Our members are all hotels in Athens and the islands of the Argo-Saronic Gulf. There are approximately 450 hotels in the region. Our active members, ie those who regularly pay their membership fees, are about 300 hotels of all categories - from five star to one star hotels.
How does the economic crisis affects the hotels in Athens?

The truth is that after the Olympic Games in 2004 we had four years of progress and 2008 was the best year for tourism in the region of Attica after 1985/86. Unfortunately, after the incident, when a police officer murdered a student in Athens in December 2008, a decline in tourism began here in the region. The main factor was, of course, the economic crisis which has strongly affected Europe and America. So, a decline began in 2009 and we have gone as far as to account reduction in revenue of hotels in Attica, which exceeded 17 percent – it was 17.6%. We entered 2010 generally hoping, not to say confident, that the situation will get a little more stable, and if we do not increase the revenue in 2010, then at least stabilize it. All this increased publicity that our country had in the first four months of the year due to the assistance of the IMF have created, say, a bad image of Greece, which impacted negatively on tourism in the Attica area. Currently, we have the data for the first five months and they show a decline in our revenue in the range of 8%. If the situation stabilizes at this figure, this is something we could handle and look more positively to the next 2011.

Greek press often writes that the strikes and marches in the center of Athens reflect poorly on hotels and tourism in general. Is there any truth in these allegations?

Yes, there is. Of course, we should say that things in Athens and Greece very often are  presented much worse than they really are. We see daily processions to be organized not only here in Greece but in other countries worldwide, in times of global economic crisis. There are processions in Spain, France, in many countries. We, the professionals here in Greece, deal with the problem in the same way. Unfortunately, we had the misfortune of this terrible incident that happened during a strike – the arson of a bank and the tragic death of three people. It certainly set out a very bad image, and certainly much worse than what is happening in Greece and Athens. This was a tragic incident, an accident. But it was a single case. That does not mean Greece is a country where there is unrest, it does not mean that Athens is troubled destination. Processions are made and will be made and this is inevitable because people have problems. Тhe measures taken are very unpleasant, and indeed employees generally can not accept them and respond, and they must respond in many cases. This does not mean that it is a turbulent city. It is a city just as beautiful and safe as it was a year ago and five years ago. And we have to join hands on that.

Is there a regional difference of how hotels are affected by the crisis? Some areas, for example, are more vulnerable, while others run better?

Economic crisis affects all in the same way, but I'd say it affects more the best and expensive hotels, because people, our guests, now are seeking to pay less and often demand better services. Due to the extraordinary, to say, situation because of the strikes held over the past four months, downtown hotels are more affected as they are in areas where marches usually pass. There is now this impression out there that some visitors may experience discomfort if there is a strike in one of those days. This leads to a greater drop in hotels located in the city center, ie near Syntagma Square, compared to other hotels that are away.  

Tags: Ioannis Retsos tourismEconomyMarketsTourism
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