With violent labor protests this month, Athens continues to see a decline in its tourism. Hotel receptionist Maria Kanelopoulou has been filing cancellations in an already empty reservation book.
“I am worried. In Greece the only thing we have is tourism, the sea, the weather,” Kanelopoulu, 45, expressed. “People who destroy don’t understand this.”
About 27,000 reservations were canceled in Athens’ hotels after the May 5 protest, threatening the one industry that’s counted on to get the country out of a severe debt crisis. The country relies on tourism for almost a fifth of its $296 billion economy, and the industry provides one in five people with jobs.
While Greece has beautifully vast beaches and thousands of islands, it’s getting harder and harder to sell as a tourist attraction. People fear the potential dangers of violent and unpredictable strikes.
Travel websites reflect the worries of travelers as they’re filled with concerns. “Since we are bringing our children with us, I am seriously rethinking our plans,” said one post on a travel site.
“I do not want to have to worry about my kids, or if there will be disruptions.”Greece’s newly elected government was forced to announce serious steps such as cutting public pay and raising taxes which in turn sparked almost daily union marches and several strikes.
Another public strike is scheduled for May 20 and more are due to happen in June. With the drop of the euro, the tourism industry hoped for more business. However after a 10 percent drop in 2009, the industry only sees another drop of 7-9 percent this year.
If the summer season is as bad as predicted, this will only hurt Greek’s in the winter.
A majority of those working in the tourism industry depend on their summer income for the entire year.