Greece’s tourism has not been affected by the Athens wildfires that raged in East Attica towards the end of July, international sector experts say. This has not only to do with the fact that the fire-stricken areas in East Attica, some 30 km away from Athens are more a summer resort for Greeks and less for international visitors. It has also to do with the fact that modern times tourists are more resilient.
“Greece has enjoyed record runs of tourism for eight years and tourism professionals expect the country will welcome just as many, if not more, visitors this year,” reads an article with the title “Love of Greece is stronger than ever” posted on travelmarketreport.
Despite the wildfires that recently raged east of Athens in Mati and spread to other areas such the country is on a course for another record-busting year, with 2017 bringing in 10.3 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of €194.6 billion, which is $20.22 billion, the website notes.
According to the Greek National Tourist Organization’s communications executive, Faye George, the critical moments surrounding the tragic fires have passed. “Business is booming, travelers are still flocking to Greece, and it is the destination of the summer,” she said.
George reported few calls during the wildfires, and assumes agents are checking the U.S. State Department site and online sources for any alerts.
“In the world we live today, travelers really have become quite resilient and that is a great thing to see, as travel this year is bigger than ever,” said Jon Grutzner, president of Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold.
New York-based Camille Sperrazza, who owns The World Awaits Travel, said not only has she not received cancellations, but travel to Greece has remained steady. “The summer always attracts honeymooners to Greece by land and sea – cruises are strong,” she added.
Sara Rodrigues, at Strong Travel in Dallas, reported similarly: no cancellations, a steady stream of interest, even a resurgence in interest in travel to Greece, although Italy remains the most popular European destination this summer.
According to U.K.-based Peter Sommer Travels’ Greece-based local agents, they reaffirmed news reports that indicated the areas most damaged by the fires are popular among Athenians for summer houses, summer camps for children and some permanent residents, and few, if any, American travelers visit those districts.
According to travelmarektreport, Sommer reported that none of his company’s programs were affected. “However, some travelers expressed concerns in the aftermath, but that was mostly due to the proximity to the airport and the port at Rafina,” said Peter Sommer. He added that, “Greece remains one of our most popular destinations for this year and next.”
Aegean Mediterranean Cruises and Tours’ sales rep, Kimberley Johnson, said, “The areas that were ravaged by the fires are domestic resort and beach areas that American travelers would not have visited, so we have not seen any change in traffic to Greece this summer.”
Also the recent tensions in the Greek-Russian relations have not negatively affected tourism.
Tourist packages from Russia to Greece are on the rise, according to data released by Greek Tourism Organisation’s office in Moscow, with Russian travel agents expecting an increase of more than 5.0 pct, ANA reports.
George Masmanidis, general manager of Mouzenidis Travel Greece, noted that demand remained at last year’s levels and added that reservations by mid-September remained satisfactory.
Marina Makarova, chief of public relations in Coral Travel, confirmed there were reservation requests for September and October, while ANEX Tour said demand for travel packages to Greece remained unchanged although this season Russians were making more reservations for 4-5 star hotels.