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Greece Hoteliers Up in Arms Over Cancellations Due to Refugee Crisis

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A group of Syrian refugees arrive on the island of Lesbos after traveling in an inflatable raft from Turkey, near Skala Sykaminias, Greece.

Photo © UNHCR/A.McConnell

Hoteliers associations across Greece, including on the islands and at border regions, are ringing alarm bells, calling on the government to take immediate measures as bookings to these destinations have dropped by as much as 90 percent in some cases due to the ever-growing refugee influx.

The hoteliers sent a letter last week to Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis requesting incentives, including reducing the value added tax by 50 percent.

Hoteliers from the islands of Samos, Chios, Lesvos and Kos told Greek daily Kathimerini that hotel bookings have been put on hold, flights cancelled and cruise ship visits cut, taking a toll on the already ailing Greek economy but also on local economies, which rely on the tourism-produced revenue.

In the meantime, Greek tourism professionals are doing their best to show good will and save their businesses by offering discounts and friendlier all-inclusive prices including in some instances such things as providing free cars.

Lesvos. Photo © Roy Pedersen / Shutterstock

Lesvos.

According to the president of the Lesvos Hoteliers Association, Pericles Antoniou, in some locations the number of bookings has dropped my as much as 90 percent. Mr Antoniou told Kathimerini that the island of Lesvos, bearing the brunt of the incoming flows of migrants, may also face a 50 percent reduction in traffic from Turkey, which he explained, is a key market.

At the same time, his counterpart on Kos, Konstantina Svinou said that the drop in reservations there comes to about 36 percent. Indicatively, bookings from Germany have fallen by 19 percent, 17 percent from the UK, 35 percent from Scandinavian countries, 42 percent from Holland and 65 percent from Poland. Mrs Svinou adds that the uncertainty has led hoteliers to change plans for the hiring of seasonal personnel.

Port by day, Chios. Photo © GTP

Chios.

In the meantime, Chios Hoteliers Association president Petros Fegoudakis says 2016 is bound to be the worst year in the last 40 years with the number of bookings plunging by 60 percent and flights from Austria, the Czech Republic and Holland at a standstill.

His counterpart on Samos, Kostas Kyriazis, said the figure on the island has dropped by 40 percent: 30 percent from the UK and German markets, 40 percent from Holland.

Northern Greece is also paying a cost. In the Halkidiki region there has been a drop in the number of reservations by 20 percent, Halkidiki Hotel Association President Grigoris Tasios said.


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