Greece bookings plunge as Germans holiday elesewhere | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 22.05.2012
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Greece bookings plunge as Germans holiday elesewhere

There's been more bad news for crisis-stricken Greece as a number of German travel companies reported a marked decline in holidaymakers' bookings. Tourists have become wary of the situation on the ground.

Two more German travel companies on Tuesday reported a steep drop in bookings for Greece, saying they were seeing a 30-percent plunge year-on-year in reservations for the highly indebted Mediterranean nation.

Germany's second largest carrier, Air Berlin, said more and more tourists were obviously shunning Greece at the moment. "Greece is doing very badly, just like North America," Chief Executive Hartmut Mehdorn said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mehdorn expressed the hope that the negative trend could be stopped soon, adding that Greece largely depended on a thriving tourism sector to wriggle out of its current financial woes. Tourism has long been a vital source of income in Greece, accounting for about one fifth of gross domestic product (GDP) in the country.

Widespread apprehensions

German retail and tourism group Rewe echoed Air Berlin's concerns on Tuesday, reporting a 30-percent decline in Greece bookings. The company's tourism chief, Norbert Fiebig, said Germans were instead choosing to travel to other places like Turkey, with Spain also a popular alternative despite the country's own debt worries.

Both Air Berlin and Rewe attributed the falling interest in Greece as a travel destination for German holidaymakers to extensive media coverage on alleged signs of animosity and even violence towards Germans over the hard austerity measures demanded by Chancellor Angela Merkel in return for bailouts.

But fears of constant strikes in the public and other sectors in Greece were also keeping the world's biggest spenders on foreign holidays away from that country, the travel companies maintained.

hg/ng (Reuters, dpa)