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Greece: Difficult Times Require Creative Solutions

Greece: Difficult Times Require Creative Solutions

Our World | On 13, Jun 2013

As part of a new ‘ad hoc’ Our World series, I am asking some ‘movers and shakers’ from companies based outside of the UK, for their professional opinions on how the continued world recession is affecting them (and more importantly perhaps, how they are overcoming obstacles). I imagine it will prove what we already know, namely that our industry is ever creative in overcoming difficult trading conditions in order to thrive – Chris Clarke.

The first piece has been kindly submitted by Petros Prelorentzos of OM Hellas DMC.

The view from Greece

“Greece is a multi-destination destination, catering for visitors of different interests and for people of different socioeconomic background, which over the last 50 years has developed into one of the world’s most famous tourism destinations. Everyone has his/her own reasons for visiting the country to “live their Myth in Greece”.

Greece is blessed country with endless history, natural beauty, great products, vivid nightlife and lifestyle, warm and hospitable people and obviously with great weather which has recently been “cursed” with probably one of the worst financial crisis ever. This crisis has caused political instability, financial uncertainty, cut throat austerity measures and great unemployment. It is evident that when you have such a mix of measures, societies react.

The unfortunate fact for Greece was that it was the first of the EU countries that had to take these measures and face the consequences of the credit crunch. We all saw later the same scenes unfolding in other cities like Madrid, Lisbon and Barcelona but the media had already painted the gloomy picture of Greece. This channel of information that has the power to paint everything whatever colour they want! White, grey, blue, “blood” or black! The picture of what was happening in a road strip of 800 metres in Athens was assumed to be happening in every single street of the country.

Bouncing Back

The consequence was a great loss to tourism, making 2011 & 2012 years with huge losses. But finally, 2013 shows a great bounce back for the country’s biggest cash earner expecting to hit the record figure of 17 million visitors generating an approximate income of €11bn. Obviously this is also great news for the employment as unemployment has already reached a record high of 27%. More jobs will be created and consequently this is the kick start for the economy that everyone expects.

When in crisis, it is time to restructure and get back to the drawing board. This is what the hoteliers and tourism related businesses did. Better services and rates are now being offered and new markets are exploited. The market mix of the country is already changing and is getting more diverse.

The great news is that the MICE business has also bounced back. There is trust now and when this is coupled with financial and political stability and all the advantages that the destination has to offer (great hotel accommodation, ease of accessibility with excellent flight connections, top level of services, great food and versatile venues, best weather when compared with other major European destinations) it is a no-brainer as to why the corporate events are back. The number of requests that we receive for conferences, incentives, product launches and corporate events is back to pre-crisis numbers. The confirmations are also steadily coming in as well. The other great news is that we also see an ever increasing demand for MICE business not only for Athens but for the rest of the mainland as well as for the islands. It is a multi-destination country and MICE professionals started discovering it.

Greece is here! It has not died as many others were gambling on and we are certain that soon, with the hard work of our people and the help of our friends, we will soon be looking back to the recession and the crisis years.

The other day an unemployed person was interviewed on the radio and when was asked whether he would be interested to receive a loan or a subsidy from the government and what the society could do for him he answered in the most plain and humble way: “if you want to help a friend, you do not lend him money, you give him work”.