Over the last year, as Greece’s economy descended into turmoil, images of riot police, Molotov cocktails and burning buildings have been hitting the country’s tourism industry hard.
20%, according to
of Greek Tourism Enterprises, and February’s anti-German protests in Athens especially deterred northern Europeans -- who are
massive spenders on overseas holidays -- from choosing the Mediterranean nation
for this summer’s break.
tourism accounting for about a fifth of the gross
domestic product and January to
April acting as the key booking season for summer vacations, Monday’s approval to a second, 130 billion
euro bailout for Greece could not have come at a better time. Tour
operators, who are targeting
travellers with keen prices and tempting offers, are hoping the bailout will stabilise the economy and quell the violence.
For example, some tour operators and villa companies are
offering four nights for the price of three while Aegean
Airlines has some keen offers for domestic flights. Early booking prices
for this summer can be at least 10% lower.
is key to helping people through this situation,” said Noel Josephides,
managing director of Sunvil Holidays, an independent
tour operator. “This year you will find a Greece that is far more
welcoming and appreciative of your visit.”
the most part, the
scenes of unrest have been contained in a small district of Athens, adjacent to
the Greek parliament. It may be less than a mile from the Acropolis and the Parthenon, but it is a world away from the country’s idyllic, white-washed islands, like Crete, Corfu and Rhodes. In fact, anywhere outside of the capital and
Thessaloniki, the country’s second largest city, is largely trouble free.
real inconvenience you’d encounter would be a public sector strike, which effected
the buses, trains and ferries on a weekly basis throughout 2011. The UK Foreign Office
has up-to-date travel advisories, and Athens News will often cover any
news of a strike.
But the crisis hasn’t scarred the very
attractions that make Greece one of the top 20
tourist destinations in the world. “The sun will still shine, the waters are still crystal
clear and the skies are blue, said Bernadette Askouni from Ionian and Aegean Island Holidays. “In that
respect nothing much has changed.”