The Association of Independent Tour Operators has hit out at comments made by the foreign secretary William hague on the civil unrest in Greece as alarmist and unrealistic.
Aito said it was upset by a warning to UK visitors issued by the Tory cabinet minster on the BBC’s Andtrew Marr Show on Sunday as well as media reports that the FCO is treating Greece as a ‘war zone’.
Chairman Derek Moore said its tour operator members were reporting no problems other than in two “very small, highly-contained areas” around Syntagma Square, by the Greek Parliament in Athens, and in central Thessaloniki, Greece’s next largest city.
He said: “This is nothing new – it’s exactly the same situation as the past three years. To say, as was reported, that Britons may be put at risk if the civil unrest in the country worsens, is alarmist to say the least and very far from reality.
“Very few holidaymakers fly into Athens or Thessaloniki. To claim that Britons living in Greece or visiting on holiday are likely to need emergency evacuation is, quite frankly, ridiculous.”
Riots in London, Manchester and Birmingham last summer were on a “significantly bigger scale than anything in Greece”, he added, yet there was no advice against visiting these areas.
A plea by foreign secretary William Hague for Britons to register with the consulate in case Greece “goes under” was also irresponsible, Moore said.
“The foreign secretary should, we think, temper his advice and issue a prompt statement to clarify the situation. There is no risk to British holidaymakers who travel on chartered flights direct to resorts on the islands and Greek mainland and who will go nowhere near Athens or Thessaloniki.”
Aito urged the government to encourage holidaymakers to Greece to help the Greeks. Tourism is one of its few industries with growth potential, according to Aito, offering it a chance to escape its current financial turmoil.
Despite the warnings the FCO has not changed its official advice for Brits travelling ro Greece.
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