OPINION

On the striking cabbies

The very depressing article about tourism in Greece does what most people seem to do — talks about Athens as if Athens IS Greece, when it most definitely is not. The face of Athens is now somewhat unpalatable to the outside world, and the rest of Greece, with as much to offer, is tarred with the same brush, which is both unfortunate and unfair.

As a foreigner who nevertheless has lived and worked in Greece for over 25 years, I am among those who still can?t see why Greece never quite seems to get it right — be it tourism, where whoever is in control at any time over the years obviously knows nothing about tourism, right down to the present financial situation where again, the people in power seem to have lost touch so much with the way the country works, or doesn?t, that the remedies are unworkable. It is getting quite hard now to make the usual speech to excuse Greece with the smile and ?oh well this is Greece and the scenery/people/welcome make it worthwhile? that we used to give to make up for practical shortcomings, soon it will be impossible.

Diana Giannoulis

Corfu

Living as a German on Crete for now 15 years and being married as long, I always was protecting Greece in several internet forums in response to critics, especially Germans. After recent incidents and especially yesterday at the airport of Heraklion I and a lot of other German, Austrian and Greek friends of mine have decided never ever to take a taxi to go somewhere.

In all these years the taxi drivers have made so much money without paying taxes; it is obvious seeing that they can strike for three weeks without earning any money. Other strikes until now lasted one or two days as the people had to go to work to earn their daily bread. Not so the taxi drivers.

I feel so ashamed of what I saw and they are most definitely damaging the already bad image of Greece around the world. Especially the tourists that were coming to Greece with the intention of supporting this country by taking their holidays here surely are very much irritated by the behaviour of the taxi drivers. I personally do not have any words anymore in response to the tourists to explain, why I still want to stay in Greece — and not only because I am married here…

I told to a friend of mine that we should print posters to hang them up all around to call for a boycott of the taxis because they bring shame on Greece!

Elisabeth Duckeck

To Paul Ferah?s comment I can only add that I can think of at least one other city without a taxi commission: Mogadishu. As far as my own experiences with Athens taxis are concerned, they have been rather good. One driver even gave me a basket of fresh eggs to take home. On another occasion I had to explain how to negotiate the back alleys of Makriyanni. And on one occasion when an attempt was made to overcharge, I successfully negotiated the price down — quite an achievement with my level of Greek. Admittedly, I use taxis as little as possible, but still…

Karl Audenaerde

Falmouth, MA

One thing I find remarkable about the taxi protests is that Greeks in Greece are used to suffering through strikes. They are a stoic people who realize that there?s nothing that can be done about it, and it’s all part of the daily life of living in Greece.

The Greeks have a phrase for this, ?ta sinithismena,? roughly translated same-old-same old love the country of my roots. I have made several dozen trips to Greece, and there is always a major strike in progress, whether it?s doctors, lawyers, civil servants, or cab drivers, it is a never-ending cycle. You could pick up today?s Kathimerini, and compare it with a random copy from 20, 15, or 10 years ago and see the same stories about the same strikes by the same groups in Greek society.

It’s unfortunate that these recent strikes affecting Greece?s biggest industry, tourism, will have lasting financial repercussions, in light of the reality of the collapse of Greece?s economy. When the tourists return home they will tell their families, neighbors and friends about their experiences.

When millions more view these problems in the world media they will choose other destinations for their planned vacations.

Some things never change.

Dimitris Kalafatis

New York

Not only are they harming tourism, they are harming individuals/residents/workers who rely on taxis to go about their daily business. I do not drive, there are no local buses serving the areas that concern me, so I am having to rely on the kindness of friends and neighbours to ?chauffeur? me about — and how long can one rely on this? Because there comes a point when it becomes an abuse of their kindness rather than acceptance of a simple gesture of friendly goodwilll.

Shame on the taxi drivers, shame on Ragousis and shame on the Government for not being more proactive in the search for a solution. One gets the impression that it is not particularly bothered about finding a quick answer — ‘Who needs taxis?? I almost hear them say, they have their cars and chauffeurs so to hell with the hoi polloi.

What we look like to the rest of the world beggars belief — we are nothing but a laughing stock.

I think we can discount quite a large percentage of tourists bound for Greece in 2012.

Kay Gee