German travel firms says Greece bookings plunge

Reuters, Tuesday 22 May 2012

Reports of violence towards Germans visitors are one of the factors driving tourists away from the cash-strapped country

There was more bad news for beleaguered Greece on Tuesday, as two more German travel firms said they were seeing a 30 per cent plunge in bookings to the Mediterranean nation.

Reports of animosity and even violence towards Germans over the hard austerity measures demanded by Chancellor Angela Merkel in return for bailouts, as well as fears of strikes, are keeping the world's biggest spenders on foreign holidays away from Greece.

Air Berlin, Germany's second largest airline, and Rewe, the retail and tourism group both said on Tuesday that bookings to Greece were around 30 per cent below that of last year.

Tourism is a vital source of income for Greece, accounting for about a fifth of gross domestic product.

"Greece is doing very badly, just like North Africa," Air Berlin Chief Executive Hartmut Mehdorn said.

Rewe Tourism chief Norbert Fiebig said Germans were instead choosing to travel to other places like Turkey, echoing comments from Thomas Cook Germany, which has said Spain is also proving a popular alternative.

Other travel groups like TUI AG and Thomas Cook's Germany-based airline Condor have already announced offers and discounts to try to stem the fall in bookings.

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