Why Greece really wishes you were there – Business Analysis & Features – Business – The Independent

English: Athens wagon for tourists' ride.

“Wish you were here” isn’t a slogan that can be spotted amid the racks of postcards spilling into the streets in Athens‘ tourist traps, but the sentiment is visible everywhere. It’s in the eyes of every bored-looking hotel receptionist and overstocked ice-cream vendor.

It’s the reason waiters in restaurants eagerly pounce on every street-stroller, and why it’s no trouble at all to hail a cab. Greece wishes you were here.

It’s not just a glib hope – tourism is at the centre of the country’s recovery plan. We all know Greece’s economy is in strife, not just up Styx creek without a paddle but drowning in debt with no life-saving ring in sight.

But away from the eurozone, political wrangling, and far from the economic catastrophe that caretaker prime minister Panagiotis Pikramenos is struggling to contain, nearly a fifth of Greece’s 11 million population is trying to make a living through tourism.

The sector accounts for 18 per cent of Greece’s GDP, and employs more than 900,000 people. The country hosts 9,600 hotels, 764,000 beds ready for tourist heads, 2,300 car hire firms, and 500 yacht companies. Yet where visitor numbers rose nearly 10 per cent to 16.4 million last year, bookings were down 20 per cent up until the recent election, and plunged 50 per cent in the week after the vote that saw 7 per cent of Greek citizens backing the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. That’s why Greece is wishing you were here.

Still, it’s one helluva PR job to stop tourists from associating Greece with riots, strikes and shortages and get them again to view it as a top holiday destination.

According to SETE, Greece’s tourism trade body, the collapse in numbers is not just due to the economic crisis: last year’s record visitor figures were flattered by tourists steering clear of countries affected by the Arab Spring. Over the past week, bookings have improved, slightly: they’re now only 25 per cent behind day-to-day bookings of this time a year ago. That’s not enough to rescue Greece.

Evidence of the bloodshed from that stuttering tourism is all over Athens. Shops are shuttered, cafes closed and vandalised. VAT on restaurant meals rose from 13 per cent to 23 per cent last September. The boarded-up Athenian cafes were clearly a victim, but so too was the government.

via Why Greece really wishes you were there – Business Analysis & Features – Business – The Independent.

Strange Random Tourism Quote:

Tourism, human circulation considered as consumption is fundamentally nothing more than the leisure of going to see what has become banal. – Guy Debord

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Posted on May 25, 2012, in Article and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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