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Greek hotel owners need a boost

- by Dave Sewell

Greek hotel owners need a boost.

Greek island holiday hotel owners are urging the government to take action to boost the industry despite the country's economic problems. Tour operators still forecast a rise in Greek island holidays in 2013 after a late recovery in the tourism sector last year.

Falling visitor numbers forced hotel owners to slash prices as street riots and negative publicity saw holidaymakers cancelling bookings and looking elsewhere for a summer holiday break.

Hotel owners reported a 15-25% fall in turnover for 2012 despite offering discounts of 30-40% on room prices as the domestic market nose-dived despite a late-season surge in overseas visitors.

Experts forecast a 10% rise in holiday bookings this year as visitors return to the Greek Islands but hotel owners warn of a major battle with rival markets such as Turkey and Spain.

Rising taxes, VAT increases and higher prices for food and fuel make it impossible to cut prices further and compete with foreign rivals. Banks are also unwilling to invest in the sector despite the promising start to the holiday season.

A collapse in the German holiday market, once the biggest for Greece, has only added to the problems. The bad blood between Greece and Germany is expected to take its toll this summer with only 0.8% of Germans planning to holiday in Greece this year, against 3.3% in 2009 when the debt crisis broke.

Greece currently has 120,000 people working in the tourism market but Greek hotel associations are confident they can increase that to 200,000 if the government can ease up on taxing the industry.

Turkey has already begun an aggressive holiday advertising campaign this year with positive results. Greek hotel owners say they can respond if they can be offered stable long-term help from the government and state support to help with loans, taxation, advertising.