Early bookings from the United Kingdom to Greece for 2016 may be showing an increase but the head of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) warns that Greece must solve a very serious matter very quickly: the refugee crisis.
Speaking to the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) during the World Travel Market (WTM) fair in London this week, ABTA Chairman Noel Josephides, stressed that Greece must demonstrate that it can handle the refugees arriving into the Aegean or else tourist arrivals to the islands may be affected.
“You have to spend some resources to make sure that the refugees are processed efficiently… And you have to get journalists out there in the next few months and show them exactly how you are processing these refugees and how you are looking after them”, Mr Josephides told GTP.
“Once you’ve done that, you will have taken the wind out of the sails of those journalists that are looking for a horror story”, he added.
ABTA’s chairman attended a meeting on Wednesday with Greek Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and expressed his concerns. He underlined that the refugee crisis is Greece’s first priority.
“You’ve really have to concentrate. We have made this very clear to the minister”, he said.
Wanting to show the importance of the issue, Mr Josephides said that a drop of 30-40 percent of arrivals on Kos because of the refugee problem, which has a capacity of some 400,000 travellers from the UK, will affect the whole of Greece.
“These are very big numbers. This is your number one priority”, he stressed.
Commenting on the highly successful ABTA 2015 Travel Convention that took place at luxury resort Costa Navarino in the Peloponnese during October, Mr Josephides said that he has received “fantastic” feedback.
“Now the problem is how to match what happened there for our next convention… Next year we are going to Abu Dhabi, which is a completely different market, a completely different product. But as far as Europe is concerned, to match what we found in the Costa Navarino is going to be virtually impossible… You can’t recreate that”, he said smiling.
GTP is an official media partner of WTM London 2015.