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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 18 July 2015
NEWS 2 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 18 JULY 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Agents concerned as bookings dip Uncertainty affecting late reservations NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU As the fraught situation in Greece continues, Australian and Greek travel agents are reporting an abrupt slowdown in bookings. Even though there are no cancellations of pre-paid or pre-booked holiday packages, the drop-off in comparison to last year by 40 per cent is worrying. "All this turmoil has discouraged Australian and British holiday goers from selecting Greece as a destination," says Sot Papalexi from Greka Bespoke in Perth. "The prices are significantly cheaper than usual and the good news is that the withdrawal limit for tourists is 1000 euros as opposed to 60 euros for holders of Greek cards." Travellers of Greek origin, it appears, haven't been disheartened with some deciding to pay their homeland a short visit in order to help their families and friends. "We have been trying to explain to non-eurozone travellers that they will enjoy cheaper prices and peaceful, trouble-free vacations in Greece, but it doesn't help." "The truth is, tourists might face some minor inconvenience regarding financial transactions, like standing in line for a while at the ATMs but that's it." Sherien Wissa, from Top Tours & Travel in Oakleigh has been working with a large Greek clientele for more than 15 years and it's the first time they've noticed such a drop in enquiries to Greece. "We have definitely noticed a decrease in the last 15 - 20 days, however we haven't had any cancellations from people who have already booked airfares to Greece," Wissa told Neos Kosmos. "Our agents and clients have only reported minor fuel shortages and logistical problems during the first days of the capital controls and tur- Tourists in the Athens Plaka district last month. New bookings have reduced in recent days. PHOTO: AP PHOTO/THANASSIS STAVRAKIS moil during the night of the referendum rally." Grecian Tours' Kostas Kavalakis, who has been running his business from Russell Street in Melbourne since 1980, hasn't had any cancellations either but keeps receiving worried phone calls from concerned non-Greek travellers. At the same time bookings for the islands have decreased up to 30-40 per cent. "Travellers did mention that they could cancel their holidays to Greece if it hadn't come to an agreement with its lenders," Kavalakis said adding that "their reaction was totally understandable as Εργασία Employment Ζητήσεις Positions Vacant DELI HAND part time required for fast paced deli in the inner northern suburbs. Prior experience is required , must be fluent in Greek and English. Please call Gerry at 0431987269. nobody knew exactly what's going to happen." Most Australian travellers had already issued and purchased their travel documents and accommodation weeks, even months, before the situation arose. After the bailout and referendum those clients have been contacting Grecian Tours' agents asking about credit and debit cards. "They are asking if they should take more cash with them and we just tell them to be reasonably prepared," he explains. "New reservations have slowed down dramatically and non-Greeks thinking of travelling are holding off; I just hope the agreement works for everyone's sake." Alex Papasimakopoulou from the Athens-based bespoke holiday agency Everymatic, reports that tourists visiting Greece are unaffected. "All our clients are reporting that there have been no issues with credit card transactions and, if anything, locals are being even more accommodating than normal," she says. "It might be worth speaking to your hotel before arrival if you haven't prepaid in full, about how they would prefer receiving the remainder of the amount." Papasimakopoulou, also confirms that there have been no cancellations, yet she highlights the vast majority of her clientele is alarmed and put off by the current situation. "Greece will always be a top-list travel destination within Europe, combining breathtaking island and mainland locations not to mention warm-hearted people," she stresses. "In order for tourism and hospitality to recover and help revive Greece's economy, the sector needs a boost injection rather than a heavy and unappealing taxation increase." Meanwhile, many tourists aiming at a Greek summer vacation have switched to Croatia and Turkey where prices are more competitive. Costs of cash transfers cut Bank of Sydney partner opens emergency cash channel The Bank of Sydney announced this week that up to 55 euros per person per day can be sent to Greece via its partner Western Union, which has reduced its commission to $7 per transaction. CEO Julie Elliott said: "We're taking every action to ensure that we deliver to our commitment to provide ongoing premium services to the Greek community in Australia. "There was a tremendous ef- fort made by the Greek country team of our partners Western Union, and they've been successful in lobbying to re-open inbound business. "We anticipate that this service will be of great help to our Greek customers who need to support their family and friends back home".
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