Greece Woos Tourists with Compensation Vows


The Greek government has announced it will cover the extra costs for any tourists stranded in the country as a result of industrial action or natural disaster, much to the relief of Bulgarians, who are traditional tourists in the neighboring country. "We are guaranteeing to pay any extra room and board any visitor in Greece pays even if stuck here because of a volcano in Iceland," said Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos. Geroulanos said tourism seemed to be recovering, although it was too early to make accurate forecasts. "The numbers are not really as gloomy as they were with the first cancellations," he told a press conference. "Some destinations have suffered greatly due to the crisis, but others are doing better than before." Tourism generates almost 20% of the nation's income, but bookings are down by about 10%, industry experts say. Strikes are continuing, although the number of violent clashes has eased. Over the last years Greece has been the greatest destination for Bulgaria's short break fans, who would rather find their pleasures closer to home and whose batteries take longer to recharge. More than 400,000 people from Bulgaria visited Greece lat year, especially for tourism reasons, regardless of whether they were accommodated in hotels and paid for the nights spent there or stayed at friends, official figures show. This is quite a big number even though it is down by 8,8% over the previous year, which was one of the excellent years in terms of Bulgarian tourists visiting Greece. Bulgarians are not very willing to go to far away destinations and in comparison with the decrease in the number of Bulgarians going abroad in 2009, the figures for Greece are quite good. This year, no doubt, Greece is going through its most difficult period. Ironically the sector, which has been hardest hit by the crisis – the tourism sector – is Greece's sole panacea, the only business, which can help it crawl out of this troubled times. All the measures that the Greek government implemented in a bid to combat the crisis, particularly the hikes in VAT and fuel, dealt a heavy blow to the country's tourism sector and it will be forced to swallow a very unpopular move – a decrease in prices of the tourist packages offered. A decrease in prices though is not a decision for everyone as the smaller, family hotels, which represent the spine of Greece's tourism sector, will see their profits shrink even further. That's the reason why companies opt for keeping the prices, but offering bonuses together with the packages.