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Greek taxi protest hits tourists

Greek taxi protest hits tourists.

Striking Greek tax drivers have blocked roads leading to Greece's largest ports at Piraeus and Patras in a 48-hour protest at the government's plans to reform the sector. Traffic in the Greek capital was brought to a standstill as more than 2,000 taxis formed a protest convoy. The blockade disrupted travel plans for thousands of holidaymakers on the mainland.

The government want to liberalise over 150 'closed shop' professions blamed for stunting competition and Greece's economic growth.They want to make it easier and cheaper to buy taxi licences.

Taxi drivers say that relaxing rules on licences will result in too many taxi drivers. They also claim that expensive licenses are now worthless as they can no longer sell them on.

Protesters blocked gates to cruise ship docks and stopped some 15,000 visitors from boarding coaches to see tourist sites. Others missed flight connections as airport roads were blocked.

Tourism leaders are angry at the blow to the Greek island holiday trade. The Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) called the strike a 'new blow to the country's image'. 

They have called on the government to come to a settlement as soon as possible to avoid more disruption.

The Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers (POX) is more forthright. A spokesman said: "At the heart of the most critical season in recent years for the country, taxi drivers in the form of protest chosen, manage a more serious blow to the country's image internationally'.

And the Association of Tourist and Travel Agencies of Greece (HATTA) also condemned the protest saying 'tourism is once again at the mercy of sudden trade union action.'
Taxi drivers have warned of more blockades unless plans to liberalise the industry are scrapped.

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