OPINION

Driving tourists away

Why is the Greek tourism industry experiencing one of the worst crises of the past few years when it should be reaping the rewards of the Athens Olympics? The debate has gained new intensity after reports yesterday that foreign tourist arrivals could end up showing a decline of 8 percent for the whole year, while competing destinations such as Spain, Turkey and Cyprus were said to be recording a rise in visitors. Interestingly, the question could be reversed: Why should Greece attract a higher number of visitors this year? Are there any reasons to prompt any increase in tourism? Or is the tourism drop fully justified? Has Greece done everything it could to promote its image abroad? Have the Athens 2004 communication advisers taken the necessary steps in that direction? Was there a larger number of cancellations due to negative reports regarding Olympic security measures? But there are other questions as well: Are we satisfied with the average cost, quality of services and the treatment of consumers? Are tourists really taken for a ride in many tourist resorts, as many reports say? Do incidents of profiteering mar Greece’s tourism? And do they harm those who have made serious investments in tourism? Is it true that many Greek holidaymakers were told this year by people in the trade that they had increased prices to make up for lost revenues from the previous year? Did the latter not realize that their cunning tricks would not make them rich but instead bring them to the brink of catastrophe. What makes them think that they can avoid this? Is it a case of pure folly? And what are the government’s plans to deal with the problem? The current slump should be enough to mobilize our policymakers into action.