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Travel Agents Have Low Expectations For 2012 Tourism Season

“Greek tourism plunges deeper into the crisis,” the president of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA), Yiorgos Telonis, said while opening the association’s annual general assembly in late March.

HATTA’s president reminded travel professionals that during last year’s assembly, the association invited the state and all forces of tourism “to turn the crisis into an opportunity.”

However, Mr. Telonis stressed that despite efforts and some positive data recorded last year, Greek tourism did not obtain the required positive results.

“In 2011 we simply managed, coincidentally, to reduce the losses of the two previous years (2009 and 2010),” the association’s president pointed out and underlined that the problem of Greek tourism is “structural.”

According to the association, even with last year’s “occasional rebound,” the turnover of travel agencies did not follow the increases of 2011.

Data from the Greek Statistical Authority showed that turnover of travel agencies, tour operators, reservation services and related activities was significantly reduced.

Specifically, in 2009 the decline was 9.9 percent and in 2010 the decline escalated to 24.5 percent. In 2011 the reduction in the turnover of travel agencies reached 35.3 percent.

In regards to this year’s tourism season, Mr. Telonis said there was a “serious freeze” in bookings to Greece. On the other hand, he refused to believe that the drop from Greece’s traditional markets (a forecast of a 30 percent decrease from Germany and 10 percent decrease from the UK) would be final.

The association’s president criticized the government’s lack of communication strategy to improve the country’s image abroad.

Once again, HATTA’s president called for a VAT reduction to the whole tourism package and said it was “absurd” that the government refers to competitiveness but then increases the VAT (on two occasions already).

Mr. Telonis was critical in regards to the government’s intentions to “open” certain so-called closed professions (KTEL bus drivers, taxi drivers and tour guides) and stated that the “mockery continues.”

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