By Stathis Kousounis
Tourists who, despite all the negative publicity, still wish to visit Greece this year are in for a treat, as foreign tour operators and Greek hoteliers are lowering prices in a bid to bolster demand.
London-based Olympic Holidays, one of the most important tour operators specializing in selling Greek package holidays, has reduced its rates by 25 percent for the peak season -- i.e. July and August -- according to the UK’s tourism trade press. For instance, one seven-day package for a four-member family visiting Rhodes from Britain includes a stay at a four-star hotel for 1,928 pounds -- a discount of 688 pounds.
Online hotel prices in Greece are showing an 8 percent decline this month compared with June 2011, according to the Trivago.gr travel website, with hotel rates in Athens falling by 22 percent year-on-year.
The average rate per night in a twin room at a Greek hotel stands at 100 euros, which is 23 percent lower than the average for 24 European countries, which rose from 128 euros last year to 130 this year. Greece is therefore the fifth-cheapest destination among the 24 countries as far as accommodation is concerned.
In Athens the average rate came to 90 euros for June, down from 115 euros in the same month last year. In June 2008, Greece’s best year in terms of tourism receipts, the average rate for Athens hotels stood at 143 euros.
Similarly, rates have gone down in Thessaloniki (from an average of 89 euros last year to just 82), at Imerovigli on Santorini (from 266 to 248), at Hersonissos on Crete (from 83 to 76), at Nafplio in the Peloponnese (from 121 to 108) and at Iraklio on Crete (from 92 to 89). Prices have gone up on Myconos, in Rethymno and Elounda on Crete and on Corfu.
The head of the Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agencies (HATTA), Giorgos Telonis, says that the negative publicity of Greece in world media distorts the country’s image as a safe destination while disputing its economic and monetary stability.
“The immediate result is the devaluation of our country in the international tourism market. We are all feeling the impact on the tourism industry and the Greek economy and society,” Telonis said.