Greek island holiday prices drop for 2012.
Prices look set to drop for a summer holiday on the Greek Islands following a fall in visitor numbers as the 2012 Greek holiday season gets under way. Bookings for Greek island holidays soared by nearly 10% in 2011, but tourism watchers say early bookings are down this year as fewer plan to take a holiday in the Greek islands in 2012.
Tourist arrivals in the Greek Islands fell nearly 9% in the first quarter according to figures from the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises - a total of 5551,442 compared to 604,869 over the same period last year.
Now package tour operators are pushing to cut prices in a bid to stimulate the holiday market. In Crete, Halkidiki, the Ionian islands and the Dodecanese prices for holiday hotel rooms have dropped an average 20%.
Travel agents report that that several large hotel chains, forced to increase prices to cover a rise in VAT in 2011, are now being forced to offer discounts because of the lower bookings this year.
Andreas Metaxas, President Hotel Association of Heraklion, Crete, says holiday package tour operators are now pressing for cuts of up to 25% on prices this summer if they are to bring back the tourists.
It seems clear that holidays in Greece have been badly hit by the poor image of the country in Europe and abroad. Reports of strikes and street riots in Athens has shocked Europeans looking for rest and relaxation on a Greek island beach holiday.
Locals insist that troubles are confined to the mainland, but repeated strikes by public sector workers creates fears of holidaymakers being stranded on islands by ferry and air strikes. But the Greek tourism ministry admits to a fall of 30% in British arrivals in Greece in 2012 so far.
In Kefalonia, a popular Greek holiday island for Brits, holiday villa owners report bookings down nearly 40% on this time last year . Some villa owners have decided to keep holiday villas closed this year as they cannot afford the costs of staying open.
In Rhodes international tourist arrivals by air in January to March dropped 54% and in Kos numbers are 40% down on 2011 with the biggest falls in arrivals from the UK and Germany.