Greek economic crisis: Timeless values help villagers

Woman with breadOlder villagers are used to a frugal existence

Roger Jinkinson, a British writer who lives in a remote village on the Greek island of Karpathos, reflects on how the profound economic crisis is affecting his small rural community more than 400km from Athens.

Although times are hard, he believes that a long tradition of thriftiness, a thriving barter economy and the return of young people to work on the land will help the village weather the crisis.

The older generation in the village are thrifty and hard working; they are used to a frugal existence and times of extreme hardship.

Hundreds of thousands of Greeks died of starvation and the complications of severe malnutrition during World War Two and the Civil War that followed.

Memories of those times can be seen etched in the faces of the old people and the habits handed down to their children.

Women are in charge of the home, a loaf of bread is kept until it is used and, if you could see the effort it takes to produce, you would understand why.

Hand-sowing wheat and barley, reaping, winnowing and grinding the grain is back-breaking work, and kneading dough for the huge loaves baked in outside wood ovens is not light work either, so it is easy to sympathise with the women as they carefully store a week-old loaf back in its bag.

In Britain we throw away millions of tonnes of food a year. In the village they throw away nothing.

Dwindling incomes

This is a small, isolated community on the edge of an often wild and turbulent sea.

Local woman making cheeseLocal women make cheese, some of which can last for up to two years

There are three main sources of income: crofting from the sea and the land, tourism, and money from the diaspora.

The last two have suffered adversely from the crisis in Western capitalism.

Tourism is in decline due to higher travel costs and the shortage of money in northern Europe.

The decline has been exacerbated by the trend away from small village hotels and tavernas towards all-inclusive holidays at globally-owned and funded mega-hotels.

International currency fluctuations also have an adverse impact.

Many of the older men in the village went to work in the US and Canada, where they paid their taxes and social security dues before returning to retire in Greece.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

The return of the young is revitalising the village, strengthening family and community ties and reversing a century-long trend of depopulation ”

End Quote

The US and Canadian governments keep their part of the contract and dutifully pay pensions into the local bank accounts of the returned workers.

But, despite all the furore and turmoil, the euro remains strong against the dollar – added to which inflation has eroded the value of these small pensions.

While bankers continue to make billions from playing the market, these retired builders and decorators, taxi drivers and cooks, lose 10% just to change their money from dollars to euros.

Wages in the village remain low. Plasterers and bricklayers earn 40 euros a day – if work is available. The few government jobs pay even less and, in this context, it is understandable that workers in Greece do not rush to pay their taxes, particularly when they see the ostentatious wealth of the upper decile.

Produce shared

Greek society is family-based, the public sector is over-bureaucratic and its economy unreformed.

Old man with breadProduce is shared in times of plenty

Next to the state, the Greek Orthodox Church is the largest land owner in Greece.

It has substantial holdings in Greek banks, many of its employees are funded by the state, and yet it pays very low taxes.

In less than 50 years, Athens has grown from the size of a small provincial town to an urban sprawl of five million, sucking the brightest and best from the rural community and unbalancing the economy.

Much of the trade in the village is done by barter and the villagers care little for the EU, the World Bank and the IMF.

Excess produce is shared in times of plenty. When times are hard, the proud people stay in their houses and go to bed early.

Among the old men in the local cafe there is a near unanimous view that it was a mistake to enter the eurozone, and a longing for a return to the drachma, which they believe was the world’s longest running currency.

While they get by on very little, the dreams of their children and grandchildren are being destroyed.

Community ties

Local women dressed in traditional costumeLocal traditions have been strengthened as young people return

The only positive outcome of the crisis is the return of young people, including graduates, to the village.

There are plenty of empty houses here, no shortage of land, and good rains last winter have expanded the opportunities for new crops, as well as giving greater returns from old.

An attraction is that work on the land is mainly a winter activity, leaving the summer months free for fishing and beach parties.

The return of the young is revitalising the village, strengthening family and community ties and reversing a century-long trend of depopulation.

This is a village with strong traditions.

The young people will learn much from their parents and grandparents, and bread will be kept to the last slice.

Roger Jinkinson is the author of Tales from a Greek Island


US, Europe debt crisis could impact flow of tourists to India

“There is definitely going to be an impact on inbound tourism this season, as it was in 2008. The smell in the wind is the same. Especially in the case of Europeans coming to India, as they will start travelling within Europe and take short holidays,” Kuoni Travel India Destination Management India South Asia CEO Dipak Deva told PTI.

There could be at least 8-10 per cent dip in total inbound tourists, especially those coming from the UK, Italy, France and Spain.

The loss, however, will be partly offset by tourists coming from Asian countries such as Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Russia and the Middle East, Deva said.
Usually, foreign tourists visit India during the autumn and winter seasons.

“There was an expectation that global economies would see a recovery in 2011. Unfortunately, this is not happening. Global economies and the economic environment are volatile and the world is confronted with economic uncertainties which could impact the company’s business,” according to EIH Ltd Chairman P R S Oberoi.

Recently, ratings agency SP had downgraded the US’s credit rating, while many countries in Europe, including Spain, Italy and Greece, continue to reel under a debt crisis, thereby raising questions over the health of the global economy.

In such a scenario, business travel is likely to be hit more than leisure tourism, industry players pointed out.

“In situations like these (economic crisis), business travel gets affected first. There is not expected to be much slowdown in leisure travel, but business travel is likely to come down,” Cleartrip.com CMO Niraj Seth said.

Given the global uncertainties, hospitality firms are focusing on the growth of domestic tourism.

“Since we cannot keep waiting for inbound tourists for the growth of the sector, we have to focus on domestic tourism. Situations like the UK (riots) and Europe (debt crisis) will keep happening,” Bharat Hotels CMD Jyotsna Suri said.

In 2010, 55.83 lakh foreign tourists visited India, a growth of 8.1 per cent compared to 2009.

As per Tourism Ministry data, foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) during the January-July, 2011, period stood at 34.17 lakh, a growth of 10.8 per cent from 30.85 lakh in the same period last year.

This year’s growth is more than the 8.2 per cent growth clocked during January-July, 2010, vis-a-vis the corresponding period of 2009.

“This indicates that inbound tourism is on the upswing once again. We at Cox Kings have also witnessed good growth during this period,” Cox Kings Director Peter Kerkar said.


New market study, "Travel and Tourism in Iceland", has been published

2011-08-24 03:19:04 – Fast Market Research recommends “Travel and Tourism in Iceland” from Euromonitor International, now available

Although 2010 was not as bad as 2009, the Icelandic economy still posted negative growth. Icelanders were careful with their outbound travel budgets. On the other hand, the state of EU countries such as Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal sent shockwaves around the world. As Iceland draws the bulk of its tourism from EU countries, the state of the EU economy mostly affected inbound tourism.

Euromonitor International’s Travel And Tourism in Iceland report offers a comprehensive guide to the size and shape of the market at a national level. It provides the latest market size data 2006-2010, allowing you to identify the sectors driving growth. It identifies the leading companies and offers strategic analysis of key factors influencing the market –

be they new legislative, technology or pricing issues. Background information on disposable income, annual leave and holiday taking habits is also included. Forecasts to 2015 illustrate how the market is set to change.


Full Report Details at
www.fastmr.com/prod/217078_travel_and_tourism_in_iceland.aspx


Product coverage: Car Rental, Demand Factors, Health and Wellness Tourism, Tourism Flows Domestic, Tourism Flows Inbound, Tourism Flows Outbound, Tourism Receipts and Expenditure, Tourist Attractions, Transportation, Travel Accommodation, Travel Retail.

Data coverage: market sizes (historic and forecasts), company shares, brand shares and distribution data.

Why buy this report?

* Get a detailed picture of the Travel And Tourism market;
* Pinpoint growth sectors and identify factors driving change;
* Understand the competitive environment, the market’s major players and leading brands;
* Use five-year forecasts to assess how the market is predicted to develop.

Euromonitor International has over 30 years experience of publishing market research reports, business reference books and online information systems. With offices in London, Chicago, Singapore, Shanghai, Vilnius, Dubai, Cape Town, Santiago and Sydney and a network of over 600 analysts worldwide, Euromonitor International has a unique capability to develop reliable information resources to help drive informed strategic planning.

Partial Table of Contents:

Travel and Tourism in Iceland
Euromonitor International
August 2011
List of Contents and Tables
Executive Summary
Financial Crisis and Global Recession Impact Tourism
Currency Fluctuations Have Opposite Effects on Inbound and Outbound Tourism
Volcanic Eruption in Iceland Disrupts Tourism Across Europe
Internet Grows Faster Than Traditional Channels
Airlines Expand on Us-iceland Route
Key Trends and Developments
Opposite Effects of Currency Movements on Inbound and Outbound Tourism
Carriers Expanding Services on Us-iceland Route
Highly Seasonal Inbound Tourism
High Internet Penetration in Iceland
Market Indicators
Table 1 Length of Domestic Trips: 2005-2010
Table 2 Length of Outbound Departures: 2005-2010
Market Data
Table 3 Balance of Tourism Payments: Value 2005-2010
Table 4 Departures by Destination: 2005-2010
Table 5 Departures by Mode of Transport: 2005-2010
Table 6 Departures by Purpose of Visit: 2005-2010
Table 7 Outgoing Tourist Expenditure: Value 2005-2010
Table 8 Forecast Departures by Destination: 2010-2015
Table 9 Forecast Departures by Mode of Transport: 2010-2015
Table 10 Forecast Departures by Purpose of Visit: 2010-2015
Table 11 Forecast Outgoing Tourist Expenditure: Value 2010-2015
Table 12 Domestic Tourism Travel by Purpose of Visit and by Mode of Transport: 2005-2010
Table 13 Domestic Tourist Expenditure: Value: 2005-2010
Table 14 Forecast Domestic Tourism Travel by Purpose of Visit and by Mode of Transport: 2010-2015
Table 15 Forecast Domestic Tourist Expenditure: Value: 2010-2015
Table 16 Tourist Attractions: Value 2005-2010
Table 17 Forecast Tourist Attractions: Value 2010-2015
Table 18 Health and Wellness Tourism Sales: Value 2005-2010
Table 19 Forecast Health and Wellness Tourism Sales: Value 2010-2015
Definitions
Tourism Parameters
Travel Accommodation
Transportation
Car Rental
Travel Retail
Travel Retail Online Sales
Tourist Attractions
Health and Wellness
Internet Transaction Value
Summary 1 Research Sources
Tourism Flows Inbound in Iceland
Headlines
Trends
Prospects
Category Data
Table 20 Arrivals by Country of Origin: 2005-2010
Table 21 Arrivals by Mode of Transport: 2005-2010
Table 22 Arrivals by Purpose of Visit: 2005-2010
Table 23 Incoming Tourist Receipts: Value 2005-2010
Table 24 Forecast Arrivals by Country of Origin: 2010-2015
Table 25 Forecast Arrivals by Mode of Transport: 2010-2015
Table 26 Forecast Arrivals by Purpose of Visit: 2010-2015
Table 27 Forecast Incoming Tourist Receipts: Value 2010-2015
Travel Accommodation in Iceland
Headlines
Trends
Hotels
Prospects
Category Data
Table 28 Travel Accommodation Sales by Broad Category: Value 2005-2010
Table 29 Travel Accommodation Outlets by Broad Category: Units 2005-2010
Table 30 Travel Accommodation Online Sales: Internet Transaction Value 2005-2010
Table 31 Hotel Company Rankings 2006-2010
Table 32 Forecast Travel Accommodation Sales by Broad Category: Value 2010-2015
Table 33 Forecast Travel Accommodation Outlets by Broad Category: Units 2010-2015
Table 34 Forecast Travel Accommodation Online Sales: Internet Transaction Value 2010-2015
Transportation in Iceland
Headlines

Full Table of Contents is available at:
www.fastmr.com/catalog/product.aspx?productid=217078dt=t

About Euromonitor International

Euromonitor International is a world leading independent provider of business intelligence on industries, countries and consumers. Their business intelligence products include award-winning online information databases, market reports and business reference books. Founded in 1972, Euromonitor International is a privately owned company with offices in London, Chicago, Singapore, Shanghai and Vilnius. Euromonitor has a team of over 600 in-country analysts worldwide, giving them a unique capability to deliver high quality and reliable business information. View more research from Euromonitor International at www.fastmr.com/catalog/publishers.aspx?pubid=1009

About Fast Market Research

Fast Market Research is an online aggregator and distributor of market research and business information. We represent the world’s top research publishers and analysts and provide quick and easy access to the best competitive intelligence available.

For more information about these or related research reports, please visit our website at www.fastmr.com or call us at 1.800.844.8156.


Old values pay

Woman with breadOlder villagers are used to a frugal existence

Roger Jinkinson, a British writer who lives in a remote village on the Greek island of Karpathos, reflects on how the profound economic crisis is affecting his small rural community more than 400km from Athens.

Although times are hard, he believes that a long tradition of thriftiness, a thriving barter economy and the return of young people to work on the land will help the village weather the crisis.

The older generation in the village are thrifty and hard working; they are used to a frugal existence and times of extreme hardship.

Hundreds of thousands of Greeks died of starvation and the complications of severe malnutrition during World War Two and the Civil War that followed.

Memories of those times can be seen etched in the faces of the old people and the habits handed down to their children.

Women are in charge of the home, a loaf of bread is kept until it is used and, if you could see the effort it takes to produce, you would understand why.

Hand-sowing wheat and barley, reaping, winnowing and grinding the grain is back-breaking work, and kneading dough for the huge loaves baked in outside wood ovens is not light work either, so it is easy to sympathise with the women as they carefully store a week-old loaf back in its bag.

In Britain we throw away millions of tonnes of food a year. In the village they throw away nothing.

Dwindling incomes

This is a small, isolated community on the edge of an often wild and turbulent sea.

Local woman making cheeseLocal women make cheese, some of which can last for up to two years

There are three main sources of income: crofting from the sea and the land, tourism, and money from the diaspora.

The last two have suffered adversely from the crisis in Western capitalism.

Tourism is in decline due to higher travel costs and the shortage of money in northern Europe.

The decline has been exacerbated by the trend away from small village hotels and tavernas towards all-inclusive holidays at globally-owned and funded mega-hotels.

International currency fluctuations also have an adverse impact.

Many of the older men in the village went to work in the US and Canada, where they paid their taxes and social security dues before returning to retire in Greece.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

The return of the young is revitalising the village, strengthening family and community ties and reversing a century-long trend of depopulation ”

End Quote

The US and Canadian governments keep their part of the contract and dutifully pay pensions into the local bank accounts of the returned workers.

But, despite all the furore and turmoil, the euro remains strong against the dollar – added to which inflation has eroded the value of these small pensions.

While bankers continue to make billions from playing the market, these retired builders and decorators, taxi drivers and cooks, lose 10% just to change their money from dollars to euros.

Wages in the village remain low. Plasterers and bricklayers earn 40 euros a day – if work is available. The few government jobs pay even less and, in this context, it is understandable that workers in Greece do not rush to pay their taxes, particularly when they see the ostentatious wealth of the upper decile.

Produce shared

Greek society is family-based, the public sector is over-bureaucratic and its economy unreformed.

Old man with breadProduce is shared in times of plenty

Next to the state, the Greek Orthodox Church is the largest land owner in Greece.

It has substantial holdings in Greek banks, many of its employees are funded by the state, and yet it pays very low taxes.

In less than 50 years, Athens has grown from the size of a small provincial town to an urban sprawl of five million, sucking the brightest and best from the rural community and unbalancing the economy.

Much of the trade in the village is done by barter and the villagers care little for the EU, the World Bank and the IMF.

Excess produce is shared in times of plenty. When times are hard, the proud people stay in their houses and go to bed early.

Among the old men in the local cafe there is a near unanimous view that it was a mistake to enter the eurozone, and a longing for a return to the drachma, which they believe was the world’s longest running currency.

While they get by on very little, the dreams of their children and grandchildren are being destroyed.

Community ties

Local women dressed in traditional costumeLocal traditions have been strengthened as young people return

The only positive outcome of the crisis is the return of young people, including graduates, to the village.

There are plenty of empty houses here, no shortage of land, and good rains last winter have expanded the opportunities for new crops, as well as giving greater returns from old.

An attraction is that work on the land is mainly a winter activity, leaving the summer months free for fishing and beach parties.

The return of the young is revitalising the village, strengthening family and community ties and reversing a century-long trend of depopulation.

This is a village with strong traditions.

The young people will learn much from their parents and grandparents, and bread will be kept to the last slice.

Roger Jinkinson is the author of Tales from a Greek Island


Free & Easy Traveler Awards a Free 20-day Greece & Turkey Adventure Trip

Edmonton, AB, August 24, 2011 – Free Easy Traveler, a leader in group adventure travel, has finished their Get Busy Livin’ Passport Challenge with a bang and has announced Tara Thompson as the Grand Prize winner!! She spent the month of July competing in seven challenges with thirty other Free Easy fans and walked away the winner of a free 20-day trip to their newest location – Greece Turkey!

“The response we received from the Get Busy Livin’ competition has been over the top. Not only did we see our fan base increase significantly as a direct result of the comp, but, we also witnessed hundreds of page interactions on a daily basis from our fans keeping our page admins hoppin’.” says Rob Campbell, Free Easy Traveler’s Operations Manager. “We are stoked that the Passport Challenge created such amazing awareness of our brand and adventure trips on Facebook. And to thank our fans, we gave back by tossing out two 20-day Greece Turkey adventure trips, over $20,000 in trip discounts and loads of Rip Curl Mirage gear to some lucky people who played along!”

With the summer winding down and the majority of their summer trips coming to a close, Free Easy is pumped to get back on campus to meet a tonne of new people and introduce them to Free Easy’s original style of adventure travel. Stay tuned to Free Easy’s website or Facebook Page for info on upcoming contests or trips. Including more information on their new 20 or 40 day Greece Turkey Adventure Travel Trip.

Free Easy is currently offering a $200 discount on the 40-day Greece Turkey adventure trip price for anyone who registers and pays their initial trip deposit before August 31st. To take advantage of that deal and have an epic adventure, register for a trip today.

About Free Easy Traveler:
Free Easy Traveler has created a new genre of adventure travel by mixing structure with ultimate flexibility in a group setting. They have been operating as a successful adventure tour operator since 2001. Free Easy currently runs trips to some of the most exotic and amazing places on the earth, including adventure tours in Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nicaragua and now Greece Turkey. Their trips are 10 – 40 days in length and provide you with the time to dive into each destination and really experience a different way of travel, life and adventure. Free Easy Traveler is rooted in Western Canada but has branches located worldwide.

This social media release was distributed by prleap.com


Read More News from Free and Easy

  • Free Easy Traveler Sends Over 500 People on SE Asia Adventures

Family Travel with Children in New York Now Easier with City-Discovery.com

Paris, France (PRWEB) August 24, 2011

This summer, City-Discovery.com recommends child-friendly activities for families vacationing with children. The company highlights bike tours, all-in-one City Pass tickets, pizza and movie tours and other things to do in New York City that offer savings and convenience for adults and fun and excitement for children.

City-Discovery’s Marketing Director Xavier Hallauer says that the options in New York can overwhelm even the most travel-savvy parent. “New York City has everything, landmarks, culture, food, shopping and entertainment. There’s always something to do in the Big Apple. The challenge for parents is children get bored and tired easily so we focused on experiences that will be fun for all ages.”

One such experience is a bike ride in the park. Hudson River Park Greenway and Central Park have bike routes where children can safely navigate the lanes without the danger of incoming traffic. Families on the guided tour can visit the Strawberry Fields International Peace Garden, Belvedere Castle, Shakespeare Garden, and more. Travelers can also choose to rent a bike for the day and plan their own itinerary. Trailer carriages, trailer tandems and child seats are available.

Children are notoriously impatient and even the most well-behaved kids can only take standing in line for so long. City-Discovery’s City Pass and Skip the Line tours are the answer to that dilemma. The Explorer Pass provides discounts and free admission to many city attractions like the Harry Potter Experience at Discovery Times Square, the SHARK Speedboat Thrill Ride, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, the New York Botanical Garden, Radio City Music Hall Tour, Ripleys Believe It or Not! and selected restaurants and shops.

The Tyrannosaurus Rex at the American Museum of Natural History is an easy favorite for children. Other exhibits include 600 dinosaur fossils and a 94-foot long blue whale model among others. Budding astronauts can visit the planetarium of the Rose Center for Earth and Space and learn about the history of the universe. Access to these areas is included in the General Admission ticket. The Super Saver ticket grants access to the Space show, special exhibits and an IMAX movie. An early access tour of the museum can be taken with the VIP ticket.

The Brooklyn Pizza tour will surely be a hit for the whole family. Enjoy authentic slices from famous New York pizzerias like the Grimaldi, specializing in brick oven Neapolitan style pizza, and the LB Spumoni Gardens, specializing in Sicilian style pizza. The blend of food and sightseeing to Brooklyn sites and movie locations make the Brooklyn Pizza tour stand out as a fun tour for all ages.

Parents can also save with the New York Meal Ticket that gives them a great value on food. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a selection of popular New York restaurants are included. Enjoy meals at famous New York restaurants like Planet Hollywood, Jack Dempseys, Mars 2112, the Heartland Brewery, Ellen’s Stardust Diner and more. Parents with children who are picky eaters can even visit the same restaurant for all three meals in one day. The Meal Ticket can be booked for one to five-days validity.

Take in 360-degree panoramic views of the city and beyond from the Empire State Building’s 86th floor is the quintessential New York experience. It is a great itinerary starter or a memorable way to end a family trip. A glass enclosed pavilion and a spacious open-air promenade lets the kids roam around safely while the whole family takes turns pointing out the sights on their itinerary. Families can also take the tour with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where children can sketch in the galleries, and see the Statue of Liberty in a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise with the Big Three Combo Ticket.

Visit City-Discovery.com for more. Read the City Discovery Travel Blog for featured travel experiences and photos from customers and find City-Discovery.com on Facebook and Twitter.

About City Discovery

City Discovery is a leading provider of sightseeing tours, travel experiences and ground transportation worldwide. With more than 5,000 carefully selected travel activities in 400 destinations and user-friendly features such as traveler reviews, wishbox, suggested itineraries and gift certificates, City Discovery sells directly to consumers and a network of over 7,500 travel agencies and affiliates. City Discovery is available in 15 languages and has offices in USA, France, Greece, Italy, Brazil, and the Philippines.

###

For the original version on PRWeb visit: www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2011/8/prweb8735639.htm


Travellers to Greece given malaria warning

Holidaymakers returning from the affected areas who experience symptoms of
malaria – which include fever, headache and muscle pains – should seek
immediate medical advice.


German Adviser: We Must Help Greece

LONDON—The euro zone must continue to stand by Greece while it carries out a decade of reforms, but should leave Italy and Spain to put their own houses in order, a top economic adviser to the German government said Wednesday.

Wolfgang Franz, chairman of the independent council of economic advisers to the federal government, also said in a telephone interview that the European Central Bank has seriously compromised itself in starting to buy Italian and Spanish bonds and should stop doing so as soon as possible.

“Italy had high interest rates before joining the euro zone and the world didn’t …


Greek Bias Against Gays Compounds Debt Crisis Hitting Tourism

August 23, 2011, 12:01 PM EDT

By Paul Tugwell

Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) — Debt-ravaged Greece’s biggest industry is missing income from a group of visitors that spends more than $140 billion a year.

Gay and lesbian tourists, who for decades flocked to the islands of Mykonos and Lesbos, have removed Greece from their list of top destinations because of discrimination, according to surveys by Amsterdam-based OutNow Consulting. The government says it intends to boost tourism and will change the law so Greece follows France and the U.K. in recognizing same-sex partnerships.

“Rights do not cost much in terms of finances, but they do a lot to promote the countries that adopt them,” said Martin Christensen, co-chairman of ILGA-Europe, a Brussels-based rights group. “If Greece opens marriage to same-sex couples, the international media will for once give the country good press that would boost morale and can increase revenue.”

Tourism accounts for one in five jobs and about 16 percent of the Greek economy, which the European Commission forecasts will shrink 3.8 percent this year after a 4.4 percent contraction in 2010. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Aug. 3 that spending by vacationers will be a main driver of Greece’s return to prosperity.

Spending by non-residents in Greece increased 12.6 percent in the first half of the year compared with the first six months of 2010, the Bank of Greece said Aug. 18. Greece’s debt pile stood at about 43 percent more than the size of the economy.

Timely Law

“Given their propensity to spend a higher share of their wallet on travel and entertainment, then a Greek strategy to appeal to gay visitors is sensible and perhaps timely,” said Bob Witeck, who runs Witeck-Combs Communications, a Washington- based firm advising clients on marketing to gay households.

While the Greek Orthodox church opposes gay marriage, the Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Ministry established in July last year a committee to examine changing existing family law to recognize same-sex civil partnerships.

The group’s report is being studied now and the government aims to introduce legislation allowing the registration of gay relationships, a ministry official said by telephone on Aug. 19, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with policy.

The value of the international gay and lesbian travel market in 2010, based on a survey of 18 countries, was $142 billion, according to the OutNow Global LGBT2020 Study of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers.

Not Greece

Greece failed to make the list of the top 10 countries where gay travelers were interested in taking a holiday in the next three years, according to the survey. Athens didn’t appear among the top 20 city destinations.

The U.S., where the District of Columbia and six states, including New York since June, allow same-sex marriage and France, which permits civil unions, and Spain, where gay couples also can marry, were the top three countries. New York, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro, with gay pride events attended by more than 4 million spectators, were the top three cities.

Changing the law to recognize gay and lesbian couples might attract more gay visitors to Greece compared with places such as Turkey, which also doesn’t recognize non-heterosexual relationships, said Gregory Vallianatos, chairman of Greek Helsinki Monitor, the Greek national committee of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.

Balkans to Nepal

“Allowing same-sex civil partnership in Greece would set the country way above other countries in the Balkans and eastern Mediterranean and would certainly boost gay tourist numbers,” Vallianatos said from his Athens office.

In drafting a new law, Greece would follow tourist destinations as far away as Nepal.

The Supreme Court in the Himalayan country decriminalized homosexuality in 2007, called for the introduction of equal rights for gay and lesbians and asked for the creation of a commission to study same-sex marriages.

“Nepal can earn good income from gay and lesbian visitors as they spend more and travel more frequently than their straight counterparts,” said lawmaker Sunil Babu Pant, who also heads Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society gay rights group. “Gays are also willing to support those countries that are gay-friendly.”

Greece’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture for the first time advertised the Athens Gay Pride this year. The ministry, which didn’t subsidize any of the events, included the “Athens Rainbow Week’’ in its highlights on the web site of the Greek National Tourism Office.

Pink Pounds

OutNow research based on actual spending shows that in 2006, the first full year of civil partnerships in the U.K., the economy was boosted by 130 million pounds ($212.9 million) from spending on rings, receptions and honeymoons.

It represents “a large and growing pool of new consumer spending which economies such as Greece would do well to position for,” said Ian Johnson, who runs OutNow, which works with the German National Tourism Office, Switzerland Tourism, Madrid Tourism and the Stockholm Visitors Board.

About 75 percent of gay travelers will seek a hotel that welcomes same-sex couples, according to Hannah Burden, spokeswoman for the Thomson, Thomson Cruises and First Choice holiday brands of Tui Travel Plc, the U.K. majority-owned unit of Germany-based Tui AG and Europe’s largest tour operator.

Thomson last year started marketing vacations for gay and lesbian travelers, including wedding packages to the Spanish island of Ibiza. The company uses the GayComfort Certified accreditation system, developed by OutNow and endorsed by the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.

“There is definitely a segment in the gay community that spends their vacation money on destinations that are supportive of the community,” said John Tanzella, CEO of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based association. Greece “could absolutely increase its revenues,” he said.

–Editors: Rodney Jefferson, Mark Gilbert

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Tugwell in Athens at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at [email protected]


Greece Bias Against Gays-Lesbians Compounds Debt Crisis as Tourism Suffers


Enlarge image

Greece Debt Crisis Hitting Tourism

Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Spending by non-residents in Greece increased 12.6 percent in the first half of the year compared with the first six months of 2010, the Bank of Greece said.

Spending by non-residents in Greece increased 12.6 percent in the first half of the year compared with the first six months of 2010, the Bank of Greece said. Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg


Enlarge image

Greece Debt Crisis Hitting Tourism

Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Tourists sit in a coffee shop at the foot of the Acropolis hill in Athens.

Tourists sit in a coffee shop at the foot of the Acropolis hill in Athens. Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Debt-ravaged Greece’s biggest
industry is missing income from a group of visitors that spends
more than $140 billion a year.

Gay and lesbian tourists, who for decades flocked to the
islands of Mykonos and Lesbos, have removed Greece from their
list of top destinations because of discrimination, according to
surveys by Amsterdam-based OutNow Consulting. The government
says it intends to boost tourism and will change the law so
Greece follows France and the U.K. in recognizing same-sex
partnerships.

“Rights do not cost much in terms of finances, but they do
a lot to promote the countries that adopt them,” said Martin
Christensen, co-chairman of ILGA-Europe, a Brussels-based rights
group. “If Greece opens marriage to same-sex couples, the
international media will for once give the country good press
that would boost morale and can increase revenue.”

Tourism accounts for one in five jobs and about 16 percent
of the Greek economy, which the European Commission forecasts
will shrink 3.8 percent this year after a 4.4 percent
contraction in 2010. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said
on Aug. 3 that spending by vacationers will be a main driver of
Greece’s return to prosperity.

Spending by non-residents in Greece increased 12.6 percent
in the first half of the year compared with the first six months
of 2010, the Bank of Greece said Aug. 18. Greece’s debt pile
stood at about 43 percent more than the size of the economy.

Timely Law

“Given their propensity to spend a higher share of their
wallet on travel and entertainment, then a Greek strategy to
appeal to gay visitors is sensible and perhaps timely,” said
Bob Witeck, who runs Witeck-Combs Communications, a Washington-
based firm advising clients on marketing to gay households.

While the Greek Orthodox church opposes gay marriage, the
Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Ministry established in
July last year a committee to examine changing existing family
law to recognize same-sex civil partnerships.

The group’s report is being studied now and the government
aims to introduce legislation allowing the registration of gay
relationships, a ministry official said by telephone on Aug. 19,
speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with policy.

The value of the international gay and lesbian travel
market in 2010, based on a survey of 18 countries, was $142
billion, according to the OutNow Global LGBT2020 Study of
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers.

Not Greece

Greece failed to make the list of the top 10 countries
where gay travelers were interested in taking a holiday in the
next three years, according to the survey. Athens didn’t appear
among the top 20 city destinations.

The U.S., where the District of Columbia and six states,
including New York since June, allow same-sex marriage and
France, which permits civil unions, and Spain, where gay couples
also can marry, were the top three countries. New York, Sydney
and Rio de Janeiro, with gay pride events attended by more than
4 million spectators, were the top three cities.

Changing the law to recognize gay and lesbian couples might
attract more gay visitors to Greece compared with places such as
Turkey, which also doesn’t recognize non-heterosexual
relationships, said Gregory Vallianatos, chairman of Greek
Helsinki Monitor
, the Greek national committee of the
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.

Balkans to Nepal

“Allowing same-sex civil partnership in Greece would set
the country way above other countries in the Balkans and eastern
Mediterranean and would certainly boost gay tourist numbers,”
Vallianatos said from his Athens office.

In drafting a new law, Greece would follow tourist
destinations as far away as Nepal.

The Supreme Court in the Himalayan country decriminalized
homosexuality in 2007, called for the introduction of equal
rights for gay and lesbians and asked for the creation of a
commission to study same-sex marriages.

“Nepal can earn good income from gay and lesbian visitors
as they spend more and travel more frequently than their
straight counterparts,” said lawmaker Sunil Babu Pant, who also
heads Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society gay rights group. “Gays are
also willing to support those countries that are gay-friendly.”

Greece’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture for the first time
advertised the Athens Gay Pride this year. The ministry, which
didn’t subsidize any of the events, included the “Athens
Rainbow Week’
’ in its highlights on the web site of the Greek
National Tourism Office.

Pink Pounds

OutNow research based on actual spending shows that in
2006, the first full year of civil partnerships in the U.K., the
economy was boosted by 130 million pounds ($212.9 million) from
spending on rings, receptions and honeymoons.

It represents “a large and growing pool of new consumer
spending
which economies such as Greece would do well to
position for,” said Ian Johnson, who runs OutNow, which works
with the German National Tourism Office, Switzerland Tourism,
Madrid Tourism and the Stockholm Visitors Board.

About 75 percent of gay travelers will seek a hotel that
welcomes same-sex couples, according to Hannah Burden,
spokeswoman for the Thomson, Thomson Cruises and First Choice
holiday brands of Tui Travel Plc (TT/), the U.K. majority-owned unit
of Germany-based Tui AG (TUI1) and Europe’s largest tour operator.

Thomson last year started marketing vacations for gay and
lesbian travelers, including wedding packages to the Spanish
island of Ibiza. The company uses the GayComfort Certified
accreditation system, developed by OutNow and endorsed by the
International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.

“There is definitely a segment in the gay community that
spends their vacation money on destinations that are supportive
of the community,” said John Tanzella, CEO of the Fort
Lauderdale
, Florida-based association. Greece “could absolutely
increase its revenues,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Paul Tugwell in Athens at
[email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Angela Cullen at
[email protected]