OPINION

Rip-off culture hits Greek tourist spots

Many urbanites throughout Greece are returning from vacation in the rural mainland or on one of the country’s many islands thoroughly disappointed with the quality of their holidays. Many have also registered their vacation complaints with consumer organizations. Greeks are growing tired of being conned during their holidays. Many of the complaints given to consumer groups pivot on the growing culture of rip-off artists who are destroying the country’s tourist destinations. In even the smallest or most insignificant destinations, irresponsible operators of all sorts make a point of charging exorbitant prices that bear little correspondence to the services they offer, exploiting any visitor who has the misfortune to fall into their clutches. As most holidaymakers shorten their vacation time in response to unbearably high prices, the gougers act even more aggressively to make enough money in one month to live off of for the remaining 11. Every business overcharges. Prices at miserable, dirty tavernas in the depths of the provinces compete with those of expensive Athenian restaurants. Their owners cannot be bothered even to cook. Instead they serve up fifth-rate frozen food that they buy from local factories that supply dozens of restaurants with the same disgusting goods. These practices are blatant evidence of a backward perception of tourism. In the short term, enough people put up with such treatment and so the rip-off merchants feel justified. In the long term, however, this will undermine the future of Greek tourism. The tremendous competitive advantage of Greece’s natural beauty is at risk of being lost because of the relentless damage done by the deification of the rip-off, unless there is a radical change of mentality among residents of tourist areas.