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Holiday bonanza if Greece quits

- by Archimedes

Holiday bonanza forecast if Greece quits the euro.

Holiday tour company Thomas Cook forecasts a huge surge in bookings for holidays in the Greek Islands if Greece decides to quit the eurozone. The holiday company claims that a Greece outside the eurozone could bring even better value holidays for tourists seeking a cheap Greek Island summer break.

The forecast comes as Greek hotel owners report summer holiday bookings in the first three months of 2012 dropping more than 10% on last year.

Greece goes to the polls yet again later this month as political parties fail to create a coalition government and anti-eurozone parties enjoy growing popular support. Greece could exit the eurozone if opponents of EU austerity measures win the election.

A Greek exit from the euro could see the reintroduction of the drachma. Experts forecast that the value of the drachma would plunge as Greece reneged on it multi-billion euro debts.

But this could also lead to British holidaymakers getting far more drachmas for their pounds and make the Greek Islands one of the cheapest holiday destinations in the Mediterranean.

Thomas Cook interim chief executive, Sam Weihagen, said: "If Greece exits (the euro), for the tourism industry it could be very profitable. Most probably, holidays to Greece will be more profitable for holidaymakers than they are today and places like Spain could lose competitiveness."

The prospect of cheaper holidays to the Greek Islands comes as Greece suffers a big drop in holiday bookings in 2012. The Bank of Greece said tourism revenues – the country's biggest money-earner – have plunged more than 15% in the first quarter of the year.

Holidays have been bit by the reluctance of German, British and Russian tourists to visit Greece and the Greek Islands. The number of travellers visiting Greece fell nearly 12% in the first three months of the year to 978,600.

With fresh elections scheduled just as the summer peak holiday season gets under way, worries are growing that political and economic instability could push visitors to summer holiday rivals, such as Spain, Turkey and North Africa.

The Bank of Greece warned that not only were visitor numbers falling but also that Greek Island visitors were spending an average 4% less per trip than in the same three months of 2011.

Total tourism receipts from European Union visitors have fallen a huge 28% year-on-year, while the revenue earned from non-EU travellers is down by 9.5%.

Greek hotel chains are already suffering from the downturn in both domestic and foreign bookings. The large luxury holiday hotel, the five-star Athens Imperial, a member of the Grecotel group, closed it doors in May as rooms remained empty.

The Athens Imperial is the third luxury hotel in Athens to be forced to close by the economic downturn in Greece and the Greek Islands. In the past two years, more than 20 hotels have closed down in Athens, and more are expected to follow.