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PSI postpones travel bookings

30 January 2012 / 20:01:15  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The situation of tourism employees is difficult due to the low number of early bookings of travel packages for Greece. The first responses from abroad for the upcoming summer season are not cheering because early bookings are 20% lower than in the same period last year.

Hoteliers and travel agents believe that the developments in Greece have created a very negative picture of the Greek tourist product. Recently, many of them have argued that the delay of the signing of the voluntary Greek debt haircut plays a key role in bookings.

GRReporter turned to the president of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) George Telonis and asked him how PSI affects tourism.

"The signing procedure of the PSI creates doubts whether Greece will remain in the eurozone or if it will return to the drachma. Consumers will continue to doubt until the process is completed. Financial stability and certainty that the country will continue to use the euro are not granted. Because European citizens are feeling this uncertainty, they are waiting to see the outcome of the negotiations. And this is the good explanation of things," he said. The bad news, according to him, is that tourists can prefer to focus on other countries this year and postpone their vacation in Greece for next year.

"In all cases, the delay of the agreement on the voluntary debt haircut, of resolving all remaining issues of the Greek economy and of reaching stability affects tourism at all levels," he said. Furthermore, he stated, "some of the bookings are postponed to a later period, i.e. there is a delay in their confirmation, and in other cases, tourists change their destination."

Those employed in the tourism industry reported losses during the Christmas and New Year holidays. According to George Telonis, it is not surprising given that the financial capabilities of most Greeks have declined. "As a result, there is a large decrease in their trips during the holidays. I think it is about 30% in the travelling at home and abroad."

The president of travel agents said it is still early to estimate the flow of tourists during Easter and the summer. "We note restraint in terms of booking. I do not know how this situation will develop. The uncertainty is associated with PSI. The sooner the signing procedure of the contract is completed, the faster markets will recover, i.e. our customers. At the same time, tourist exhibitions are running, tourist operators are negotiating and signing contracts with hoteliers."

He said the abolition of cabotage is a positive measure for tourism development, but stressed that the most important thing now is the occurrence of monetary equilibrium and stability. "What concerns us greatly is the financial condition of our customers from the European Union member states. Many of the countries whose citizens are the majority of our customers have economic difficulties. The whole of Europe is in recession, which will eventually affect Greek tourism."

In his opinion, the delay in early bookings for the summer season does not concern only Greece. "It affects the entire continent and all countries that are our competitors in the field of tourism. The consumption potential of all Europeans have dropped to a lesser or greater degree."

Expectations are that bookings of packages for Greece will take place literally at the last minute. The president of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies, however, expressed his belief that "the good tourist product coupled with the competitive prices that we will be able to offer will bring us the same number of tourists as last year. And there have been a record number for the past few years."

Tags: EconomyTourismBookingsRecessionHellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies
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