Athens – The sensitive refugee issue, widely broadcasted by the Media only the last year, may affect Greek Tourism, the main sector that brings resources to the country in times of recession. Which Greek islands will be mainly affected by the refugee crisis’ management? Is the on-going and fruitless negotiation able to ddiscourage tourists from visiting Greece? “L’Indro” met Dimitris Laloumis, Associate professor and Director of Touristic Business Administration and Tourism Hospitality, who replied to our questions.
What will be the negative effects of the refugee crisis in the incoming tourism?
According to data we have at the moment, the refugee crisis has already brought setbacks, while it’s possible to cause more negative effects later on. Tourism is a sensitive product. Negative news creates negative effects. This is because the negative news spreads more easily than positive and because the consumer has too many alternatives. Tourists make the trip in order to have a good time, so it is very likely to seek another destination, which will not disrupt their touristic nirvana. Furthermore, reports have shown that the security issue is very important for tourists.
So far, the management of the refugee crisis is examined in terms of a humanitarian crisis. However, it represents as well a very important economic, political and cultural subject. If will not be examined as such, we cannot be optimistic.
What are the potential impacts on income and employment?
Greece has very high levels of unemployment with a significant proportion of the population living below the poverty line. Tourism, the only sector that showed sustainability elements, is being hit at the moment in various ways and one of them is the refugee issue. The consequences on unemployment and income are obvious unavoidable.
Which areas in Greece present the biggest declines in bookings?
Tourists make reservations (no bookings), whose cancellation in certain islands approach the 40%, with the risk increase. These reservations were granted. These people had planned their trip, they had bought their swimsuits, were ready at all. Feeling insecure, they cancelled the trip. This situation won’t change the current season. The announcements restitution of the problem with advertising campaigns may only indicate ignorance of the tourism market response rules.
Is tourism in Athens threatened?
The negative news presents a strange spread of power in space and time. The war in the Persian Gulf, for instance, reduced tourist traffic in the Aegean and the terrorist attack in Bali in 1996 discourages even today tourists from visiting the island. The management of the huge refugee flows affects mostly the islands of the eastern Aegean, Athens, less the Cyclades, while it slightly favours the Ionian Islands.