July Strikes Put Greek Tourism In Limbo
While Greece was already suffering a decline in visitor numbers, the tourism sector was tested in July with disruptions to flights and an ongoing strike by fuel-truck drivers that led to gasoline shortages across the country.
In late July Greek air traffic controllers launched a “work-to-rule” protest against pension reform plans and a halt to new recruitment.
The action, which did not allow all aircraft to approach Greek air space, hit airline passengers with frequent departure delays.
“Our competitors are waiting around the corner,” President of the Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers Andreas Andreadis said during an interview on a Greek radio show.
“While Turkey sees a 20 percent revenue increase, we will have earnings drop by 10 percent this year,” he said.
The situation in Greek airports returned to normal on 27 July after the air traffic controllers reached a compromise with the transport ministry.
However, Greek truck drivers then went on strike in protest against government plans to liberalize their, until now, “closed profession.” The strike action resulted to gas stations throughout Greece running out of fuel.
“Greek tourism, following the economic crisis, the events of May, the closing off of the Acropolis and central hotels in Athens, the frequent closing off of the city center, the prevention of passengers boarding cruise ships, now has to face airport delays and lack of fuel,” the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) had said in an announcement.
SETE underlined the strike’s damaging impact on the tourism sector since domestic tourists faced problems of running out of gas while tourists were prevented from coming to Greece by car from neighboring countries (Bulgaria, Romania, etc.).
On its part, the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) wondered when everyone would finally show concern for the country’s general interest.
“Greek tourism, the country and the economy itself can not continue to live with this horror every day… Does the country actually have to collapse for people to understand this?” HATTA wondered.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry announced last month that tourists “stranded” in Greece due to extraordinary events (strikes or natural disasters) would receive compensation of 50 euros per day, for a period of two days, to cover accommodation and meals.