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Greek Travel Agencies Suffer Covid-19 Blow

Turnover for Greece’s travel agencies dropped by 90 percent after the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic with outgoing and domestic tourism failing to help save the day, said the Federation of Hellenic Associations of Tourist & Travel Agencies (FedHATTA) this week.

According to the federation whose members handle approximately 85 percent of country’s organized tourism and employ about 30,000 people, losses in 2020 are expected to exceed 90 percent of last year’s turnover.

FedHATTA members describe the situation as “disappointing”, adding that the entire tourism service chain from tour buses and drivers to guides and tour leaders are faced with near to no demand.

Citing the constantly changing safety restrictions, lack of a consistent plan, and the resultant insecurity, FedHATTA is calling on the government to address a series of issues that will allow travel agencies to remain above water without dismissing staff until signs of recovery, not expected they say, until spring next year.

“In order for businesses to survive, but also to plan their operations three years ahead as is practiced by the global tourism market, it is crucial to address operational problems. This requires additional state financial support, tax [incentives], and resolution of labor issues,” the federation said in a letter to Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis.

Greek travel agencies have been operating with skeleton staff over the past five months since the outbreak of Covid-19 with “running operating costs accumulating”, FedHATTA said. Underlining at the same time that tourist traffic is not expected to recover before the health crisis subsides.

Aggravating the situation, FedHATTA said, is the lagging demand in August on the back of a new surge in coronavirus cases and the newly announced restrictions.

According to FedHATTA, tourism stakeholders expect revenue to reach 4 billion euros by the end of the year, lower the initial 5-billion-euro target forecast.

The federation is requesting among others through to 31 March 2021that the government cover social insurance contributions of all employees including part-time, self-employed or freelance professionals, property tax breaks, and the extension of the Syn-ergasia program job retention program, which expires on October 15.

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