The vacation reservations by Western European tourists for the Easter and summer holidays have decreased.
The crisis hit Greek tourism and made more than 850 000 people, who are working in this sector, very cautious because a tourist decrease of 10% means lay-off for 50 000 people.
The consequences have become clear from the first months of the year. Hotel prices in Athens have fallen with 35% compared to last year and tourists have deceased with 40%. Until now, reservation of British tourists have decreased with 30%, of German with 20%, and even smaller is going to be the number of tourists from the US and Russia.
“Many hotels are planning to open in the beginning of June and not in the beginning of April,” says Spitos Ginis, owner of a tourist agency. According to the United Greek Tourist Agencies there are two scenarios: the optimistic – the decrease of tourists will be 10%, which will lead to shrinking the GDP with 2% and laying-off of 50 000 people in the sector; the pessimistic – the decrease of tourists will be 20%, which will definitely lead to a deep economic crisis in the country and will drastically increase unemployment.
“The bad thing is that no one is taking the measures, which were announced by the Prime Minister two months ago,” said the chairman of the Hotels Union in Athens Giorgios Tzakiris. The problem is not that there are cancelled reservations but that there are no reservations at all and the few pre-paid packets, which were reserved by American tourists are cancelled, adds Mr. Tzakiris. The problem with the 500 hotels, which is 50% of the hotels in Athens, is that they are rented and businessmen do not know what to do, because the opportunities to announce discounted rates are limited.
Under these conditions, the United Greek Tourist Agencies got in touch with banks, in order to try and search for an exit to this dead-end street in the sector.
The other big problem is the currencies devaluation. The British Pound is falling and so it the Russian Ruble. Right now the Greek tourism is investing in Russian tourists, because they spend more than the average tourists.
Americans are avoiding trips to Europe because of the strong Euro and the British have not made reservations during December, as they usually do.
The only hope for hotels is the last minute reservations and the “all inclusive” packets, which allow tourists to calculate how much they will have to spend. The average price of such packet depends on the season and is between ?400 and ?700 for a four star hotel and includes the plane tickets, the nights, drinks and food. During the last years there is an increase of tourists from Russia (25.7%), Poland, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania.
An advertising campaign will start in the following days, valued to be ?60 million and the Minister of Tourist Development Konstantinos Markopoulos said that “we should fight for Greek tourism until the last day of the year.”