Published on Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Holiday business won't cure Greece's financial crisis

Tourism will not ease Greece's current economic woes, according to industry insiders who predict either very low growth or further decline in 2010.

The holiday hotspot, whose sun-soaked islands have been hugely popular with Brits for decades, suffered severely in 2009 when revenue from foreign tourists fell by 11% in the 11 months to November 2009. This is attributed to cheaper non-euro competitors as well as the global recession.

Before the downturn, Greece attracted around 15 million tourists a year. One in five Greek people work in the tourism sector which accounts for a fifth of the country’s 250 billion euro economy.

The destination is currently looking for a financial rescue package from other eurozone members in an attempt to reduce its giant public deficit from 12.7% - more than four times what single currency rules allow.

President of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies Argiro Fili said: "The year 2010 will be quite difficult for tourist businesses. We will all again depend on last minute bookings and low prices."

Head of the Hellenic Hotel Federation Andreas Andreadis told Reuters newsagency: "Early bookings from the key British and German markets are a bit down even compared to 2009. It will play between minus 5 percent and plus 5 percent. "It's a very uncertain, very volatile situation.”

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