According to The Telegraph, tourism makes up 1/5 of Greece’s GDP and bookings there have fallen 10% over the past year. Sadly tourism projections through 2010 continue to look grim for the Greeks…and it’s really no surprise. Travelers have a lot to worry about if they’re booking a vacation to Greece this summer.
In addition to remaining Icelandic volcano flight disruption worries, Greece’s economy is in the process of being bailed out by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund amidst major debt issues. Last month they received the first installation of the 110 billion euro package just to avoid slipping into bankruptcy.
In order to secure the loans, the government had to cut pensions and civil-sector wages and also raised consumer taxes. Labor unions are fighting back by calling general strikes which has caused disruptions in services like transport to and from the Athens airport. There are now threats of a sailors’ union blockading the port at Piraeus, Athens’ gateway to the Greek islands.
But in an impressive attempt to regain the vacationing public’s trust, Greece has instated a surprising new insurance policy. They’re promising to pay for any visitors’ extra room and board costs should they become stranded due to disruptions caused by work stoppages or natural disasters.
Culture and Tourism Minister, Pavlos Geroulanos, had this to say:
We are certain that it will be a calm summer and that there will be no major strike disruptions. But just in case something happens, the Greek state is prepared to cover these costs.
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.
In addition to this insurance for travelers, the government has also eased visa rules for Russian and Ukrainian visitors, as well as suspended landing fees at all regional airports.
[Image: HBarisson / Flickr]