Sliding greenback weighs on Louis

Louis, the biggest tourism company in Greece and Cyprus, hurt by a combination of the euro/dollar exchange rate and higher fuel costs, reported a net loss for 2008 against a year-earlier profit. The net loss was 31 million euros versus a net profit of 13.3 million euros a year earlier, the Nicosia-based company said in a bourse filing. Sales fell 13 percent to 273 million euros. The sharp depreciation of the dollar during the course of 2008 led to a large decline in revenues from ship rentals – which are paid for in the US currency – but it also had a negative impact on the number of visiting American tourists. «The global economic crisis affected mainly bookings from Americans in the summer of 2008, while the sharp increase in fuel and food prices increased the operating costs of cruise ships and hotels,» it said. Looking ahead, the group said it had factored lower revenue into its 2009 budget, which envisages a reduction in expenses and capital expenditure. It said it would also consider further expansion into the chartering business as well as the creation of strategic alliances. Louis has four ships chartered to British tour operator Thomson and another seven sailing under its own brand.

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