Greece sets up tourism crisis committee

Greece sets up tourism crisis committee

The Greek Government has set up a crisis committee to help its tourism industry which faces a further slump in holiday bookings following the Athens riots.

According to the Athens-Attica Hotel Union, an estimated 20,000 hotel bookings have been cancelled in the Greek capital and nearby resorts following the civil unrest,  which left three people dead.

The committee, which will be led by the Greek Tourism Organization, aims to turn cancellations into reservations by showing that the country remains safe and hospitable, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today.

Even before the riots, the sector had been badly hurt by the strength of Euro, with potential tourists instead heading to non-Eurozone destinations such as Turkey and Egypt.

Tourism is one of Greek’s most important industries, and contributes around 17 per cent of economic output and one in five jobs, according to figures from the WTTC. Any further slump would result in further job losses and hinder Greece’s economic recovery.

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Thomas Cook yesterday reported a 30 per cent slump to Greece from Germany and compared with the same period last year. Bookings from the UK have fallen 24 per cent. The tour operator previously sold about 600,000 holidays to Greece every year.

Thomas Cook Chief Executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said that holidaymakers who had yet to book were opting for alternative destinations to Greece, such as Balearics, Turkey and Egypt.

Mr Fontenla-Novoa said: “We are working with both the [Greek] Government and the hotel associations to make it more financially attractive.”

However he noted that the civil disturbances were centred on the mainland, whereas most holidays took place on the Greek islands.