ECONOMY

Promise of best-value holidays looks empty

A scheme that sent shock waves through the Greek holiday industry with promises of «accommodation at the price of a breakfast» seems to have run aground. Hundreds of holders of Travel Card – a scheme touted as the best value for money for holidaymakers of modest incomes when it was launched last spring – are reportedly finding that promises of discount accommodation in over 300 hotels throughout Greece, are really not worth more than the piece of plastic. Media and Travel Group, the company which sold the card for 5O euros through kiosks, is said to be facing financial problems and not in a position to meet obligations to the card buyers or the other tourism operators involved. Hoteliers and distributors of the card are also reported to be filing complaints, while the company’s approximately 50 workers have staged a sit-in, demanding back pay. Travel Card promised holders accommodation with breakfast starting at 7.50 euros and averaging 12.50 euros in all categories of facilities, including luxury hotels. Holders are now reporting that the company’s switchboard is not responding and that the summer guide to more hotels, which had been promised, is nowhere to be found. Shortly after Travel Card was launched, an Athens court had ruled in favor of an injunction brought by the Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agents (HATTA) against the Media and Travel Group, forbidding the advertising of Travel Card unless the terms of purchase were made more transparent. The Consumers Institute (INKA) had also warned that the company’s claims were false and misleading. According to estimates, only about 6,000 cards were sold, which condemned the scheme to financial insolvency. Separately, HATTA said on Friday arrivals from Germany and the UK so far this year are down about 15 percent and 3-4 percent respectively as compared to the same period last year.