The uncontrolled flow of refugees and migrants to Greece is putting such pressure on Greek tourism that is posing a direct threat to the national economy.
The cancellation of hotel reservations and flight bookings, as well as the reduction in scheduled routes by cruise companies for this tourism season, are the first tangible consequences for the island destinations that are bearing the brunt of the huge migrant flows.
Hoteliers have resorted to slashing prices and advertising special offers in a bid to bolster demand. However, they stress the danger that unless the situation changes a chain reaction will affect the revenues of local enterprises and then the national economy and employment.
Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE) head Andreas Andreadis included the migration problem as one of the unknown factors that will affect this tourism season during a speech at the association’s recent general meeting. He noted that the solidarity that the majority of the islanders are showing with the refugees may be unique and certainly helps the image of the country abroad, but this on its own is not enough. The state, he added, should find real and applicable solutions immediately.
Andreadis said that the government will have to safeguard local communities as well as tourist destinations so as not to compromise the quality of the enterprises’ service. Already, he said, destinations in the eastern Aegean are suffering pressure, seeing only last-minute bookings, while he added that the efforts of the tourism authorities are focusing on strengthening those areas.
Lesvos Hoteliers Association president Periklis Antoniou told Kathimerini that the decline in bookings for this season reaches up to 90 percent from some markets, and that the association had sent a letter to Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis and other ministers on Friday asking them to take immediate measures to strengthen the local economy, such as cutting value-added tax by 50 percent.