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UK Tour Operators Urge Greece to Improve its Image

HATTA, the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies, in cooperation with three UK tour operators and travel agencies, those being ABTA (Travel Association), AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) and FTO (Federation of Tour Operators) have sent an open letter to the Greek premier, top government ministers and members of the troika, urging them to “save” the image of Greece in the UK market.

HATTA said the letter written with the help of the aforementioned UK federations underlines the seriousness of the situation and the necessity to take urgent action.

They UK tour operators urge Greece to launch a campaign and also to hire a public relations company to help overturn a prevailing view that Greece is not a safe destination. The UK operators noted that unless there is an immediate response, they will be forced to cancel bookings to Greece. ( Further Reading Athens News)

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  1. Perhaps they would be better employed sending this message to their own Ministers and Media outlets…..

  2. The UK operators noted that unless there is an immediate response, they will be forced to cancel bookings to Greece.

    I find this sentence very intriguing. It tells me that they have been knocking on the door of the Greek Tourism Ministry and did not get any response until now. That’s what I also heard from somebody who works in the business in Athens.
    But it is almost unbelievable that in these times these kind of signals fell on deaf ears in Athens. Really unbelievable!

    This morning I read on SKAI that also 6 big German tour operators are starting a campaign to persuade Germans to come to Greece this year. Because those bookings have fallen by 30% compared to last year. Until the report, bookings from Germany declined by 30%. Last year came to Greece 2,240,000 Germans and they spent 1.8 billion euros.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      really unbelievable that there is not answer from the Greek side. On the other hand, it is also unbelievable that they blackmail campaigns – where there is not money – threatening to cancel bookings. Of course, I don’t know how the tourism sector works, with commissions etc, however this sentence strikes me eyes too.

      • Well as far as I know, the German companies are paying the promotion themselves.
        As for how the industry works: Way to difficult to explain here in a couple of sentences. Let me just say that most foreign companies are now making contracts for next year. That means that all these companies have to fulfill contracts they have gone in to at least one year ago. They have contracts with airlines and hoteliers. When an airline has opened flights on, say Kalamata twice a week for this year it will cost a lot of money if those seats are not filled.
        On the other hand I know from personal experience that a lot of those companies are really concerned about the situation of their contacts here. That is the hotel owners, travel agents, car rentals, bus drivers, boat people, restaurant owners. Most people don’t know how much money is invested in building up this whole web of contacts. And when we in Greece go bust and belly up, these companies loose a lot of human capital, that can not easily be bought back. When it is gone it will be gone for years to come.
        For example: we are now making contact with a hotel in a place we do not really know. We have now met and talked. Everything looks good. So, in the next coming weeks we will visit the place and scout. When that looks as we think it does, we will develop programs. Then we have to negotiate with them and if we are done we can put this program on the market. Next year the first clients might come. And if we are damn lucky, maybe even this year. But that would be really pushing it. No, a contact like that will bring in money for all of us in about two years time. In the mean time everybody has to do their best to build and nurture this new destination abroad.
        It takes an awful lot of energy and money to build it up, and it takes just one incident to completely destroy years of hard work.
        And what is so infuriating is that Greece has a huge ministry for tourism, has a huge ministry for antiquities, has an enormous ministry for development but neither of them has one bit of a clue how this industry internationally works. No, the only thing they seem to be worried stiff about at the moment is that the so called ‘social holiday-market’ will disappear. You know, those holidays paid for by insurance funds on which half the Greek hotels are dependent. But most of those hotels have learned that they can charge double prices for Greeks and those social holidays. And they will be paid so much that most of them just don’t bother to be open more than 2 months a year.
        Alas, that is a large part of what we call the Greek tourist industry.
        All investments that have gone into those hotels in the last decades are just wasted. I really would like to see a research in how much EU-money has gone into hotel building programs and how many of those buildings are now great private homes. As I see hundreds of examples in villages around me. Because most can stop being a hotel after 5 years. Then the renovation of their homes is payed by us and by Brussels.
        And in the mean time the GNTO is still just concerned about the brand of hairdryers, the amount of glasses and especially in dictating prices and class of the hotels who want to function. I know to many horror stories in this field. Just one example: a hotel wanted to be a 2 star hotel but the ministry decided they had to be a 4 star hotel with according prices. And nothing could change that. So now the hotel is 4 star. The official prices are way to high. The real prices that clients are paying are almost half. But the tax office calculates not how much money there really is coming in but a projected income for a year based on the number of rooms and those prices set by the ministry in Athens…
        Guess everybody could write a book with these kind of stories. And that is so sad, so very sad!

        • Excellent insider informations, thx Antonis! This adds nicely to the news reports about the weirdly stagnating tourism sector. The journalists didn’t manage to explain the reasons for that as good as you did here.

  3. Dear Ann! Are you really suggesting that Greek journalists and blog owners should paint a rosy picture of Greece to promote tourism? Wow, that’s a… very ‘interesting’ idea.
    Pampering over the wrongs was bread and butter for 30 years here. And it brought us nothing but happiness and prosperity. Didn’t it? So hurrah for the suggestion to stifle any change and openness.
    One of the great things of a blog like this is that it nuances like mad the realities painted in the press all over the world about Greece. Nuances about the good and the bad. And I know a lot of people who are still positive about Greece because they follow KTG. Openness, honesty and alternative opinions are the biggest positive advertisement Greece can have at the moment.

    • keeptalkinggreece


      • I wholeheartedly second Antonis’ view: “Openness, honesty and alternative opinions are the biggest positive advertisement Greece can have at the moment.” And, indeed, ktg is better at that than many “journalists” in Greek media, afaics.

        Btw, this is off topic, but I also find that girls who still can blush are very sexy! 😀

      • Rather good, wasn’t it? :mrgreen:
        Darn and I meant every word of it… *sigh* I must be getting soft at my young age!

        • I don’t hope so, Antonis! 😀

          As we say in Germany: Soft is soft and hard is hard, but always only soft is hard on you, too. 🙂