The “Arab Spring” helped divert some tourists to southern Europe instead of North Africa during 2011. But now, Greece is expected to see a downfall in tourism in addition to other economic troubles.
There are various explanations for these depressing expectations in one of the countries flourishing industries:
- Violent scenes: The protests in Greece included burning buildings and other uncomfortable sights for the average tourist.
- Strikes: Getting stuck for 12 hours in airport doesn’t encourage the average person, his colleagues and acquaintances to opt for a Greek vacation. This happened to many passengers during recent years. Also strikes in other services scare off tourists.
- VAT: One of the means to “bail out” Greece was an increase in the Value Added Tax to 23%. This includes restaurants. In Spain, VAT for most products is 18%, but is only 8% in restaurants. The Greek move, imposed by the troika, has eventually proved counterproductive and reduced government revenues. Kathimerini reports that 2012 targets will most probably be missed, given the slow start to the year.
- No government reaction: The state doesn’t help the tourism sector to overcome the current crisis. Possible help could come from ad campaigns in Europe, but the country cannot afford anything at the moment.
- Waiting for the drachma: A Greek exit of the euro-zone is highly anticipated. So why would you pay for a souvlaki in euros when the drachma is coming? Such reports, seen in international press, have also discouraged potential tourists.
This could result in a loss of 4-6 billion euros, or 2-3% of GDP in 2012.
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