German tourist bookings to Greece up, operator says

More Germans are booking holidays to Greece now that the debt-stricken country has not been in the headlines so much recently, the chief executive of a leading German tour operator said on Monday.

Tour operators and airlines in Germany had reported a slump of around a third in bookings to Greece this summer as Germans avoided the country, fearing they would not be welcomed after Chancellor Angela Merkel took a hard stance on the country’s debt woes.

Since Greece’s pro-bailout parties secured an election majority last month, bookings have picked up over the last few weeks, Thomas Cook Germany said.

“The booking trend runs parallel to what’s in the papers. If the headlines are bad, bookings fall, if it’s quiet, then they rise again,» Chief Executive Peter Fankhauser said.

Tourism generates about a fifth of Greece’s gross domestic product, and Germany is its biggest source of tourists. In the first quarter, the country’s income from tourism dropped 15 percent.

Fankhauser said that even though hoteliers and airlines had been offering discounts, booking numbers were still well below those of the previous year.

A spokesman for the tour operator declined to give exact numbers. Rival German tour operator Rewe said last week bookings to Greece were down by 28 percent.

Instead of Greece, German tourists are choosing to go to Spain, Turkey, or Tunisia. Bookings to Tunisia are back at 2010 levels, Fankhauser said, recovering strongly after the 2011 uprisings across the region. [Reuters]

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