The political instability, Greece’s troublesome and tedious negotiations with the EU and the resultant negative media reports are taking a toll on Greek tourism, Hellenic Hotel Federation (POX) President Yiannis Retsos said in an interview to Greek financial daily Naftemporiki, with all the more tourists having second thoughts about finalising their stays in the country.
“It’s evident that if the situation does not change soon, it will be detrimental to Greek tourism. We are constantly walking on a tightrope and must realize that the situation is having a negative impact on how impressions are shaped abroad,” Retsos told Naftemporiki.
In the meantime, Retsos cautioned that the “absence” of an operational banking system and the lack of liquidity will not only lead thousands of healthy businesses to the brink, but is also pushing Greek entrepreneurs to the side, which he describes as “criminal”.
“The lack of liquidity and the unbearable high costs are major issues affecting accommodation more than other sectors, due to the nature of the services offered. Specifically, cash is required for the necessary interventions, repairs, maintenance, supplies, (re)hiring, as well as for the large number of transactions with associates and foreign companies.”
Retsos said though it was very early to make any safe assessments, the season has started off on a positive note with the number of bookings higher than last year, but added that he was neither satisfied nor optimistic.
The federation president was also quick to stress the need to re-ignite domestic tourism.
“POX has detailed and documented proposals for all the issues facing the hospitality industry… reigniting domestic tourism is of paramount importance. There is a whole other side of Greece that depends on domestic tourism, which is still in dire straits.”
Retsos went on to add that foreign visitors are still attracted to Greece because it is a safe destination, offering services for all types of tourists at a value for money.
“The visitor experience of Greek destinations is positive. As a result, good impressions are transferred and reproduced in their social circles and their environment. Let’s not forget, recommendations to family and friends are among the most decisive factors in the destination selection process in many countries.”
Retsos said that key to attracting foreign visitors to Greece were the competitive prices and package deals offered by Greek entrepreneurs but warned that it will now be difficult for hoteliers to bring prices up to a post-crisis level required to finance businesses for the future.