Greedy charter airlines are thwarting attempts by the Greek government to boost its flagging tourist sector, according to tour operators.
The Greek government has scrapped landing and takeoff fees at Greece’s regional airports until September, which should save a family about £40. However airlines are being accused of not passing these saving on to travellers.Noel Josephides, of Sunvil told The Times: “What annoys tour operators is that we can’t pass these savings on to our clients because the airlines are keeping the money. We’ve had no notification from any of the charter carriers, such as Monarch, Thomson Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines, that they intend doing otherwise.”
Monarch replied by saying it had worked out yet how to return the money.
“Monarch’s preference would be that the Greeks pass this saving directly to the tour operators via a reduction in the passenger-related taxes,” it said. “However, if no other method can be established then Monarch will endeavour to find a mechanism to enable this saving to be passed on to the tour operators.”
The global downturn has hit the Greek tourism industry particularly hard. Whilst tourism to neighbouring Turkey is currently thriving due to its relative cheapness, many of the Greek islands are suffering due to the price of the Euro and remained closed over Easter, which traditionally marks the start of the season.
SETE, said the combination of a global recession and the attractiveness of non-eurozone countries such as Turkey and Egypt would lead to 3m fewer tourists visiting the country in 2009.
Summer bookings are down by as much as a third and hoteliers are offering operators discounts of up to 25% on peak rates. Island-hopping also promises to be a bargain this summer, with ferry operators promising to keep winter tariffs, meaning savings of up to 50% on all sailings.