ECONOMY

Major decline seen in holiday bookings

Greek tourism has entered the storm of the fallout from the international financial crisis, with the start of this year’s season, as bookings have posted a significant drop. The president of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers (POX), Andreas Andreadis, revealed that holiday package bookings from the main and emerging markets have fallen by 20 to 30 percent this year. Despite the government’s 14 measures to support tourism, the discounts and offers by hoteliers and positive initiatives by Tourism Development Minister Constantinos Markopoulos to promote Greece as a holiday destination, today’s indications suggest it would be a major success if the season ends with a drop of just 10 percent in arrivals. The most pessimistic scenario reflects a 20 percent decline. The problem with the new measures, according to Andreadis, is the reluctance by banks to issue the funds that hotels require. «The proposal by the chairman of Piraeus Bank, Michalis Sallas, to forward part of the package given to banks to specific strategic sectors of the Greek economy is a good basis for discussion toward overcoming certain problems seen today in the transactions between hotel enterprises and the banking sector,» said the POX president. He insists that a new package of measures will be required, including a reduction in value-added tax for tourism enterprises by three percentage points.