Greek tourism remains undeterred
The Greek financial meltdown and violent protests will not stop Greek-Australians from holidaying in Greece, say travellers, and travel and tourism professionals.
"In all honesty I don't care what's going on over there- It was a decision I have made to go and nothing can change that," said Jimmy Fitopoulos, who leaves for Greece next month.
"There is speculations around the cafe and the majority don't like what's going on financially but not enough to impact their travels."
Sales Manager of Exclusive World Travel, Peter Kaliakoudis said that he was yet to see any cancellations on flights to Greece. "There has been a slight hesitation from travellers- should I go, should I not, will there be more fasarias, but at the end of the day they are deciding to go anyway," he pointed out.
"Protests aren't the issue but when you start seeing deaths then it does start concerning people and they do get a little frightened."
Greece has set up a crisis committee for tourism, following an increase in hotel booking cancellations after violent strikes on May 5 in Athens left three people dead.
Dean Hewett, Australian co-owner of Boutique Athens blames the media for blowing the austerity protest out of proportion.
"People don't realise that Greeks protest every day of the year, and although it was a terrible accident that three people died, we were there and it wasn't very bad at all," he said. The Thursday following the protest saw 6000 cancellations in one day-according to Hewett, who admits he has felt it in his pocket.
However it is not just the media beat up that has frightened people from Athens.
"The biggest issue for tourism in Greece is not the Greek economic crisis, it's the volcanic ash cloud that's been hanging in Europe for the past four weeks that has left people stuck all over Europe and unable to travel.
"British airways are also on ongoing strikes and as 30 to 40 per cent of Greek tourists come from UK, it is a huge problem."
On the up side, both Kaliakoudis and Hewett agree that holiday costs in Greece will be cheaper.
"The flights won't necessarily be cheaper but I can see now a lot of hotels are starting to drop rates," said Kaliakoudis.
"If you are going to go to Greece, at least go and enjoy yourself now. Rather than spending 20 Euros for a bacon and eggs breakfast in Mykonos, you will get for 11."
Pointing to last month's union strike at Greece's largest ports which blocked 900 tourists from returning to their ship, Hewett acknowledges that tourists may still face disruption from civil unrest.
Yet that is not enough to topple the industry which generates 17 per cent of gross domestic product.
"Tourism is resilient in Greece because the Acropolis ain't going anywhere, and neither are the islands or welcoming culture. Whether there's austerity cuts, a military junta, or the IMF in control, the beauty of Greece stays."
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