Fires impact Greek tourism industry

The recent fires that have devastated parts of Greece destroying over 184,000 hectares of land, claiming 63 lives and gutting dozens of villages is also expected to have an impact on the country’s crucial tourism industry.In stock market trade on Tuesday both ferry operator Minoan Lines and rival Lesvos Maritime shed value.

Although economists admit that at the present time it is hard to calculate the effects of the fires on the tourism sector, which is now more important than agriculture to the country’s GDP.

The worst hit area of western Peloponese is the site of the ancient ruins of Olympia and the birthplace of the Olympics. This site is Greece’s third most popular archaeological spot and attracts more than 450,000 visitors last year. The site has now reopened after being threatened by nearby forest fires.

Despite the fires, tourism has rebounded in 2007, with a record 16.5 million visitors expected this year. Financial assistance has now been promised by the government in the wake of the forest fire devastation.