ECONOMY

Site closure hurts more than unrest

The impact on the tourism sector from the recent unrest in Greek cities will be serious but short-term, tourism professionals estimate. They add that a 10-day strike at the Acropolis was more damaging than the unrest, as Culture Ministry employees had blocked visitors from accessing the monument amid demands for higher pay. The strike ended yesterday. «Accelerated departures» have been confined to small groups or lone travelers, with cancellations limited given the traditionally low pre-Christmas bookings, says the head of the Greek tourist employers federation, Nikos Angelopoulos. «What’s hurting us worse is the ongoing closure of the Acropolis,» he adds. Athens and Thessaloniki have suffered the worst damage from the riots, with 15 hotels reporting serious problems in the capital and two in Thessaloniki. «Usually such riots do not affect a destination in the long term nor can they be compared with terrorist attacks… For the time being we have no cancellations for next summer,» says Tim Ananiadis, CEO at the Hotel Grande Bretagne and regional director of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts chain. The protests have actually taken a heavier toll on Thessaloniki, a city that usually thrives on weekend visitors from Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania. Over 2,000 bookings were canceled in the past week, says local hoteliers association general secretary Dimitris Moysiadis. (Kathimerini, AFP)