One after another, conferences scheduled for the fall in Athens are being canceled along with the corresponding hotel bookings that go with them. There is no indication that they are simply being postponed.
It is not only the Americans who have changed their plans since September 11. “Not even the Europeans are coming,” says a Greek Hotel Chamber executive. “Hotels in Athens and Thessaloniki (which especially cater to conference tourism during the fall season) are facing a serious problem.”
As well, the executive said that cruise lovers, most of which are American, would spend three or four nights in Athens during their visit, but they will be conspicuously absent this year.
However, the impact of the terrorist crisis has not affected every sector to the same extent. Bookings for conferences, corporate events and incentives have dropped by more than one-third since the attacks on New York, according to Aristotelis Divanis, president of the Greek Hotel Chamber. Occupancy rates in Athens and Thessaloniki hotels have also dropped by a similar percentage.
But the plunge in arrivals from North America and Australia has hit cruise vacations the hardest. Royal Olympic Cruises says that bookings dropped by at least one-half, with the company being forced to cancel two of the company’s 10 programmed cruises.
This exacerbates the company’s difficult financial situation.
In the first half of this year, ROC reported a doubling of its net loss to $22.4 million. Andreas Potamianos, the company’s president, called on Papoutsis to dish out subsidies, similar to the regime applying to hotels, under which they get a refund for 25 percent of their repair and refurbishment costs. Foreign cruise companies such as Renaissance were already forced to shut down.