Greeks use elections as excuse to escape abroad

The mayoral and prefectural elections held the last two weekends have boosted not only local democracy, but also tourism. Data collected by the Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agents (HATTA) for Kathimerini shows that, instead of heading to the election booths, many Greeks chose to make three-day trips, mainly to European destinations. Yiannis Evangelou, the president of HATTA, told Kathimerini that organized trips over the last two weekends from Greece have shown an unusual increase compared to the same time last year, particularly for destinations such as Rome, Paris, Prague and London. Estimates suggest that the increase in the sale of tourism packages on these two weekends reached 20 to 25 percent over the same weekend in 2005. Yet besides European trips, many Greeks also took advantage of the polling days to make short outings to destinations within the country, and not necessarily to where they were supposed to vote. On the contrary, the tourism market is sorry to see the national holiday of October 28 falling on a Saturday this year. Traditionally, this holiday is the first long weekend after the summer season, so travel agencies usually expect demand for packages for Greece and abroad to pick up. This year indications show that the sale of packages will be reduced compared to the same period in previous years. As far as the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period is concerned, the first packages will be announced by the travel market in early November. As Evangelou suggests, the pricing policy that travel agencies will follow is going be similar to that of last year, without significant changes. The HATTA president believes that just as in previous years, their home country will be Greeks’ top choice over the holiday period. Evangelou advises those who are interested in spending their holidays within Greece to make their reservations as early as possible, given the shortage of accommodation during the winter season.