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Tourism Sector Weakened By Strong Euro

The strength of the euro against the dollar brings some opportunities to the forefront for Greek travelers to countries outside of the EU. The same applies to travelers from other European Union countries, including Greece’s main markets of Germany and Britain, who may forsake traditional destinations such as Greece in favor of cheaper destinations.

Non-euro countries of the Balkans, and Turkey, offer package prices that are much lower than those offered by Greece. As well, Turkey offers rock-bottom prices within its yachting sector. Furthermore, Germans may opt for these cheaper destinations this summer as the country wades through a difficult economic period. Analysts suggest a 20% drop in arrivals from Germany would cut 700 million euros from the country’s annual tourism revenue.

They say that holiday business is the most vulnerable it has ever been. Tumbling economies and a feeling of inevitability about a war with Iraq are combining to undermine the whole region’s travel business.

And according to Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos, the introduction of the euro has exacerbated the problem. “We had thought a common European currency would have helped the euro states, since travelers don’t need to change currency. However, this benefit has been lost because of the huge price increases.”

The euro factor, as well as other economic crises, has led to problems in the German economy and as a result, there has been a massive decline in German tourism, which traditionally made up 25 percent of the annual influx in Greece.

To confront the problem, Mr. Georgakopoulos said government would promote Greece as a safe haven. “Greece is a friendly country that strives for peace. It’s a place travelers never feel in danger.”

He reminded that the country’s position in the global tourist economy is already weak in many respects with the number of tourists to Greece last year down by between three and five percent.

“It is an exceptionally sensitive industry and the thought of a war is causing people to be very apprehensive about traveling.”

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