“Vacations? Are you kidding me?” Elena answers my question with a question and busts into a loud laughter. The 35-year-old woman works at a supermarket, gets 700 euro cash in the hand at the end of every month. “I can’t afford to spend one month’s salary in vacations this year” she adds and the laughter mutated into a griming line around her mouth. “Athens can be wonderful in August” she says more to convince herself than me.
Nikos had to drop a special offer for families by a local tour operator. The offer for one week in a four star hotel near the sea was competitive, however the family of four would could not come up for a hotel near the sea but in a remote area. “We’d need a car, the transportation costs are too high and the gasoline price has skyrocketed” complains Nikos. “We’d needed at least 550 euro only for transport and more over I’d have to spend one months salary for one week vacation”. With all these cuts and tax hikes and not knowing if I’d have my work place still in the fall? No, we can’t afford it”.
“You definitely need a car when you have kids” says his wife. “And no matter how sparingly you manage, teenagers have their needs”.
Nikos and his wife made an arrangement with friends who have a small summer house. They will send their teenager kids there for one week. The couple will stay in Athens and go swimming to nearby beaches in the afternoons.
Six out of ten Greeks will not go on vacation this year because of financial problems and the high cost of ferry tickets, said the president of Consumers Union of Workers of Greece GSEE Gianna Karantinakis to private radio VIMA FM.
She said that a family of four needs 600 euros on transport fares to travel to Crete, while similar costs are needed to travel to Cyclades islands. Karantinakis appealed to Greek shipping companies to address the issue and make arrangements at least for low wage earners and pensioners.
Furthermore she said that according to rough estimates, local holidaymakers have reduced this summer by 40 percent.