Greece sales already 10% down, warn operators

Greece sales already 10% down, warn operators

One of the largest specialist tour operators to Greece has backed calls for a promotional campaign funded by the country's government as sales fall 10% to the destination.

The Sunvil Group, of which Sunvil Holidays is its main brand, has supported Abta and the Association of Independent Tour Operators' letter to the Greek prime minister warning capacity could be cut to the destination if funds are not provided to the tourist board to boost visitor numbers. Greece has suffered from negative publicity in recent months because of civil unrest in the country.

The group, which sends 18,000 to 20,000 holidaymakers to Greece each year and is one of the largest specialist operators to the destination, said the government needed to "put its hand in its pockets" or risk losing business from the UK this summer.

Managing director Noel Josephides said: "We are putting pressure on Greece; if you [Greek government] don't help to repair the image, then you will lose business."

Sunvil's sales to Greece are around 10% down year on year but it is difficult to gauge how badly the destination will be hit because a large proportion of bookings tend to come in the lates market, said Josephides, who stressed a campaign was needed now, "not in August".

"If we could have a contribution in our advertising we would be able to make our offers to Greece more visible. If they could match our spend £1 for £1 it would go so much further," he added..

The operator does not plan to cut capacity, however. Josephides said: "We cannot afford to cut capacity. We are committed. We can tinker around the edges by starting flights a week later, but we are tied in."

But Aito chairman Derek Moore said "one or two" operators had indicated that capacity to Greece could be cut. "They are thinking that way and wondering what to do about charter capacity for the summer," he said. Operators offering a range of destinations including Greece were more likely to be able to shift capacity out to other areas, he added.

He added: "This letter is meant as a wake-up call to the Greek government . Figures to Greece are down and most tourist boards would put a campaign in place to correct this. UK operators which depend on Greece will be suffering badly."



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