The government’s decision to call a referendum, shut banks and default on its payment to the International Monetary Fund are taking a toll on Greek tourism, professionals warned on Wednesday.
Andreas Andreadis, the head of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), said that hotel bookings are down 50,000 a day due to the recent developments in the country. Given that last-minute bookings account for 20 percent of the year’s tourism traffic, the blow is expected to be severe for Greek tourism, with knock-on effects on employment if those bookings are lost for good.
Furthermore, there is a growing wave of cancellations at Athens hotels, while bookings from Greeks have dropped to almost zero.
Andreadis said the activation of Target 2 – an interbank payment system for the real-time processing of cross-border transfers throughout the European Union – would be vital as it would facilitate transactions with other countries and allow for essential imports, meaning that catering facilities at accommodation units would be able to operate. He went on to warn that food and drink stocks will only suffice to cover hotels’ needs for one more week.
Data released on Wednesday by the Travelplanet 24 and Airtickets websites showed that air ticket bookings by Greek travelers for the July-September period showed a decline of up to 50 percent. Air ticket cancellations rose from an average rate of 1.05 percent to 7.2 percent in the period from June 27 to yesterday. This peaked on Monday, when the cancellation rate amounted to 22 percent.
Similarly, ferry ticket bookings had posted an annual increase of 10 percent up until June 25, but since Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a referendum there has been a dip of 60 percent.
Meanwhile, SETE informed the US Embassy in Athens that a major US-based tour operator had told the association that it had received orders to withhold money owed to Greek hoteliers from bookings last month. The embassy is investigating the claims, while the International Monetary Fund yesterday issued a statement denying that it had given any such order.