What is a Greek family worth, if mom, dad and kids cannot swim in the sea? Already in the 1980’s Andreas Papandreou* launched the slogan of Greek summer identity: “Swimming for the Common People!” (Τα μπάνια του λαού). A socialist concept for summer where every Greek, especially low-income families, had the right to affordable summer vacation. Preferably in August that used to be the hottest month of the summer. Populism? Maybe? But it facilitated every low-income family to have cheap summer vacations.
Thirty years later, it is July that has become the hottest summer month due to climate change and Greeks have run out of money due to economic change. “Swimming for the Common People” has mutated into a “Levies for the Common People” with non-stop regular, direct, indirect and emergency taxes and permanent income decreases.
Beach bags are now full of paid and unpaid bills starting from taxes and ending in utilities.
In the fifth year of crisis and recession, in the second year of IMF/EU/ECB rescue bailout, in the broke summer of 2012, the majority of Greeks has abandoned the dream of summer splish-splash and has to stay at home.
Up to the nearest beach!
Supposedly the kids of the happy Greek family of the 80’s have their own kids nowadays. If they are lucky enough to live near the sea, mom, dad and kids pack sunmbrellas and lotions, towels and tents, folding chairs and tables, arms and spring floats, buckets and shovels, coolers and taper ware with meat balls and stuffed vegetables, a big watermelon, slip into their flip-flops, get into the car and up they go! To spend a whole day at the beach at the lowest possible cost. Like in the 1950’s and 1960’s however in a more contemporary version.
If they live away from the beach, they stay home and boil in their own sweat. From anger.
According to news portal Newsbomb.gr, 7 out of 10 Greeks have not made any plans for summer vacation this year and are not going to make any – neither for August, not for September.
Those not going…
69% of of the survey respondents invoked “economic crunch” as the reason for not going into holidays this summer.
21% of them, gave “economic instability” [taxes, additional austerity measures]
and only 10% said they won’t go on holiday due to business reasons.
Many said, they were unable to leave even for a couple of days.
Of those going on vacation, 31% said, they would ‘escape’ home for no more than 4 days, because their finances do not allow more.
25% said, they will go on holiday for a week, while only 15% have the luxury of two weeks vacation.
The majority said, they would go and spend vacation at a relative’s or friend’s summer house in order to save the cost of accommodation.
55% said they would stay at a friend’s private or summer house and 25% at a relative’s home.
20% said, they would book accommodation in a hotel.
Who can afford a hotel accommodation nowadays?
Newsbomb.gr underlines that the cost for accommodation and food for 15 days for family of four is 3,000 euros.
“The daily rate starts for hotel for a family of four starts at 120 euros for hotel, while trannsport costs and general expenses start at 120 euros.”
Why is so expensive? Because a family of foreign tourists gets much better accomodation rates incl trasnport through international travel agencies, while Greeks do not.
Of course, a family could rent an holiday apartment usually with a tiny kitchen for the family’s daily meal to press down the cost. This would lower the pure accommodation cost down to 70-80 euro per day. A the end of summer holidays, dad and kids take home a totally burned out mom, who spent her each vacation day struggling in a tiny space to feed four people. Not to mention that on Greek islands, for example, basic goods are more expensive due to transportation costs.
I saw recently, a Greek webportal offering special Daily-Cruise prices for Greeks only! Thsi website is not affiliated with local extreme-right parties. I was first annoyed about the offer concerning only holders of Greek IDs. But on second thought and for reasons mentioned above, to tell you the truth, I can’t blame them. Populism? Maybe. But it facilitate Athenians to enjoy a cooling breeze.
PS1: Among the accessories a Greek family carries to the beach, I forgot the most important two: a shaker for frappe and the giant squid that swallows their income.
* In the 1980’s socialist PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou promoted state-subsidized tourism for lower-income families.