Greece seems to be caught in a proverbial whirlwind in recent weeks, with game-changing announcements coming daily. Yesterday, Prime Minister George Papandreou and his chief rival agreed to create a new unity government. Papandreou agreed to resign once the details were completed.
Today, the Greek people are awaiting word on the formation of a unity government under their new leader, who, according to the New York Times, will have to oversee the country’s debt-relief deal with the European Union and then hold early elections.
Chris Petsilas, director of the Greek National Tourism Organization in New York, told Travel Agent that he did not believe the governmental and economic crises would impact tourism. In fact, he said, Greece is seeing its second-best year ever in terms of tourism numbers. “That didn’t come from nowhere,” he said. “We give a lot of incentives to the industry, like a 5 percent tax deduction for hotel stays.” The government also temporarily lifted landing fees at certain airports in order to increase the profit margins of airlines coming into the country.The country has also received some overflow from the Arab Spring, with travelers originally bound for Egypt or the Middle East now rerouting to Greece, Petsilas added. Cruise ships have been a major factor for those numbers.
By maintaining good relations with the private sector and business partners, the Greek National Tourism Organization is keeping Greece’s visitor numbers high. “We hope next year will be a great one,” Petsilas said.
But as CNN is reporting, Greece's turmoil is far from over. The bailout, the second it has received from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, would be accompanied by additional austerity measures such as slashing government jobs, privatizing some businesses and reducing pensions.