Greece remains the most popular holiday destination for Serbs
23. May 2010. | 09:28
Author: Nikos D. A. Arvanites
Greece remains the favourite destination for Serbian holidaymakers for this upcoming summer according to the statistics released by the Serbian national tourist association.The head of the press office at the Greek Embassy in Belgrade, Petros Tsarouchis, believes that Greece is one of the safest places in the world and that strikes do not make a country unsafe.
Tourism is one of Greek’s most important industries, and contributes around 17 per cent of economic output and one in five jobs, according to figures from the WTTC. Greece depends on tourism for nearly a fifth of its 240-billion euro ($296 billion) economy, and one in five people work in the industry.
But even with the attraction of its thousands of islands and clear blue waters, all made cheaper by a falling euro, Greece has become a hard sell, as potential visitors are put off by the frequent unpredictable strikes and images of violent clashes at anti-austerity marches.
Even before the riots, the sector had been badly hurt by the strength of Euro, with potential tourists instead heading to non-Eurozone destinations such as Turkey and Egypt.
Travel Web sites are filled with questions from worried travelers wondering whether to change or cancel their bookings.
The tourism industry had hoped to benefit from the weaker euro to stabilize revenues after a 10 percent drop in 2009, but now sees a further 7-9 percent fall this year. Some 27,000 nights were canceled in Athens hotels after the May 5 march, threatening a resource that is essential to helping Greece out of a severe debt crisis.
If the summer season is as bad as forecast, this will further sour the mood afterward, when Greeks find themselves with less money to make it through the winter. Most people working in tourism depend on their summer income to last the whole year.
Tour operators say Greece needs to further slash prices to win back visitors tempted by cheaper destinations such as Turkey.
Greek hoteliers already slashed prices in 2009 and many have announced further cuts of 15-20 percent in places such as Rhodes this year, also turning non-refundable bookings into refundable ones to try to attract clients or adding a free night.
The Greek Government has set up a crisis committee to help its tourism industry which faces a further slump in holiday bookings following the Athens riots.
The committee, which will be led by the Greek Tourism Organization, aims to turn cancellations into reservations by showing that the country remains safe and hospitable, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today.
However, Greece remains the favourite destination for Serbian holidaymakers for this upcoming summer according to the statistics released by the Serbian national tourist association.
The research was conducted amongst 19 798 Serb citizens who were asked about their plans for the upcoming summer and their favoured destinations as well as their planned budget.
More than a fifth of respondents said they were planning to visit the Bulgarian Black Sea, but a significantly larger proportion – 40 per cent – indicated that they were planning or had already made plans to visit Greece.
Ranking behind Bulgaria – in third place – was Turkey with 20 per cent, Egypt with five per cent and Tunisia with three per cent.
Bulgaria has long since overtaken Montenegro, a traditional destination for Serbian holidaymakers. Only about three per cent of those interviewed expressed a desire to go there this summer.
The head of the press office at the Greek Embassy in Belgrade, Petros Tsarouchis, believes that Greece is one of the safest places in the world and that strikes do not make a country unsafe.
“There are protests against the financial crisis in Athens and Thessaloniki, but there is no cause for concern, as the protests are not affecting the rest of the country - especially the islands or the Halkidiki peninsula.
I think Serbs, especially those who have vacationed in Greece before, know that it is a safe country and that we have centuries-old ties and a history of good neighborly relations.
Hundreds of thousands of Serbs friends temporal choose Greece as a top tourist destination in Greece who feel at home, enjoying the unique natural beauty and its infrastructure and accepted the unique Greek hospitality in a safe and calm way.
Greek people are known for their feelings of friendship, solidarity and respect for the Serbian people" Tsarouchis told EMGportal.