Greece holidays increasingly popular despite strikes

Austria’s biggest travel agency has revealed that bookings of trips to Greece are up despite the turmoil in the country.

Hundreds of thousands downed tools and took to the streets in Athens and elsewhere in the Eurozone member to voice their disagreement with the government’s fiscal decisions. Greece has received hundreds of millions of Euros from fellow European Union (EU) member nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since last year. More money will be transferred to the country shortly to avoid its collapse.

Now Harald Nograsek, the head of the Austrian Verkehrsbüro Group, disclosed that his company registered 4.3 per cent more reservations for holidays in Greece than it recorded at the same time of last year. Nograsek explained that 12.6 per cent of all summer trips booked with the Verkehrsbüro Group this year were vacations in Greece. This share makes the southern European country the most popular destination ahead of Spain (11.7 per cent) and Turkey with 10.1 per cent. “I have to point out, though, that we received very few bookings for Greece last year,” he told the Kurier today (Fri).

Austrian consumer rights organisations are registering a substantial number of calls by Austrians set to go to Greece, worrying about the situation there as far as strikes are concerned. Many holidaymakers are also enquiring whether they can cancel their trips to the country free of charge, a radio news programme informed this morning.

Nograsek also said that his firm counted three per cent more bookings overall so far this year compared to last year. He said more and more people were opting for holidays in Egypt – which had been hit by unrest earlier this year – as well. However, Egypt booking figures were ranging around 35 per cent below last year’s statistics, the Verkehrsbüro Group boss explained.

Nograsek revealed to the Kurier newspaper that cruises were increasingly popular. Earlier this month, tourism officials released figures showing that nearly 106,000 Austrians went on cruise trips in 2010, almost 13 per cent more than in 2009. Around 18.8 million people did cruises worldwide last year.

Meanwhile, the beach holidays are suffering in popularity. Sporting holidays and city trips are more popular among Austrians than stays at the beach these days in contrast to the 1970s, according to agency RegioPlan. The firm also found that Austrian households spend 1,100 Euros on vacations on average a year.