BUSINESS

Merkel tells Germans to spend vacations in Greece

By Stathis Kousounis

Tourism bookings from Germany are showing an increase of more than 15 percent compared to this time last year, the head of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Andreas Andreadis, said from the international tourism fair in Berlin (ITB) that opened to the public on Wednesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel inaugurated the exhibition late on Tuesday, asking her compatriots to spend their vacations in Greece. After opening the event for the first time, Merkel visited the Greek representatives upon her own initiative and offered wishes of good luck for Greek tourism.

According to Bank of Greece data, the number of arrivals from Germany declined by 5.9 percent last year from 2011, amounting to 2.1 million. In its annual report, the German national tourism organization notes that the uncertainty created among travelers as to whether they would be able to get cash from Greek banks and whether their flights would actually depart, among other worries, had a negative impact on the number that actually chose Greece as their holiday destination.

The GFK market research institute, which compiles data from over 1,200 travel agencies, siad that the number of Greek packages increased in January by 13.5 percent from the same month last year while total sales for the summer 2013 grew by 13.9 percent. “The Germans are returning to Greece,” GFK commented.

Andreadis noted that last year bookings from Germany had frozen from February to May, which suggests that the increase in the same period this year will now show a considerable year-on-year rise.

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