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Key Tourism Figures 2017: George Maroutsos, President Greek Union of Air Travel Agencies

George MaroutsosOfficial Tourism Message

Air transportation is a key element of traveling. Airlines play an important role not only in the transportation but in the travel industry as a whole. Airlines’ decisions, fare pricing, flight frequencies can create or decrease tourism traffic in specific areas or countries. The value proposition that tour operators and travel agencies are offering to their customers cannot work without the co-operation and synergies from the Airlines side.

The European airlines market has faced many challenges during the past couple of years and recent developments are affecting the travel industry and more importantly the consumers. Airline bankruptcies, mergers and acquisitions, code share agreements and joint ventures have resulted in reduced competition. Lack of genuine competition in the Airlines market results in higher fares.

Moreover we are witnessing airlines’ attempts to change the currently established distribution channels. This is not necessarily in the wrong direction but the way it is performed is having negative consequences on the travel industry as a whole. Airlines are trying hard to attract consumers to their own sites, imposing surcharges when a GDS is used and hence penalizing travel agents by adding costs to their operations. It’s obvious that the neutral consultation that travel agents offer to their customers as well as comparison shopping is at risk.

We must make sure that customers will be in the position to compare prices by having access to transparent information and expert consultation.

EU should take a closer look in the Airlines and safeguard the competition principals.

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