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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

SYRIZA: Don't Fool Around With Tourism!

"We do not want to continue the current saturated model of intensive exploitation of tourism". 

This is how Alexis Tsipras is quoted in this Daily Mail article. Apparently, the context is that SYRIZA objects to all-inclusive deals which, in their mind, bring no value to the local economies. Whether that makes sense or not is something for experts in tourism to discuss.

My point is a different one. When providers of a service attempt to tell customers what they should and should not do, that generally doesn't work so well, at least as long as customers have a choice. If I think an all-inclusive deal is the best for my family vacation, then I will get an all-inclusive deal. If I can no longer get it in Greece, I will get it elsewhere. 

I am all for trying out new experiments but I wouldn't necessary try out my experiments with one of the most important sectors in the economy! Experiments can also fail!

21 comments:

  1. Mr. Kastner, you should show more faith to the greek Obama! You even voted for him!

    In a normal world, you shouldn't even have to explain why. All inclusive packages exist, because there is demand for them. Those who don't want them, don't take them. If Greece stops all inclusive packages, there are other neighbouring countries that won't. Simple as that. Supply and demand. But that sounds too capitalist, doesn't it. So in SYRIZA they think immediately "I can divert the demand where i prefer!".

    Don't worry, now with SYRIZA goverment, there will be a myriad of enviromental laws that will bring investments on tourism to a halt.

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  2. To be honest, Tsipras was wise enough to put as minister for tourism, a very capable ANEL MP, Mrs. Kountura, former fashion model:

    http://www.elenakountoura.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=resource&cresrc=175&cnode=23

    She will bring some much needed glamour to tourism, be it all inclusive, or not.

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  3. Yeah, Syriza will ruin the one relatively stable backbone of the Greek economy, too. Plus other madness they passed on day three. This is worse than predicted. At this pace, Grexit is only a matter of a few months, if not weeks!

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    1. Mr. Gray

      You should see the mayhem in Athens stockmarket. Banks down -29% in one day. All foreign investors are selling like there is no tomorrow.

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    2. This is becoming worse than anybody expected. All the best to you folks, here's hoping you'll make it through the tough times ahead!

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    3. Mr. Gray,

      Have faith now. The "cavalry" phone Tsipras. The american Obama phoned the greek Obama and promiced him support and support for the end of austerity in Europe.

      http://www.skai.gr/news/world/article/274206/oi-ipa-sto-pleuro-tis-ellinikis-kuvernisis-enadia-stin-litotita/

      I can already hear Mrs Merkel's telephone ringing. Can you?

      I am afraid you won't get divorce once more.

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    4. You completely misunderstood Obama. The timing of the call, on Wednesday afternoon (not on monday, as the other congratulations,), shows this was a reminder to Tsipras that the White House paid attention to his brouhaha about the sanctions against Russia! It was a warning, not an encouragement at all. That's obvious, since the US push hardest for tough sanctions. They wouldn't encourage a minor nation getting in their superpower ways at all, they would run roughshot over it, if necessary.

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  4. Greece has undoubtedly one of the best tourist products available worldwide.
    1- Fantastic weather
    2-Fantastic beaches
    3-Fantastic crystal clear temperate waters
    4-One of the richest cultures
    5-One of the richest history
    6-The birth of civilization
    7-The birth of education,
    to name but a few.
    Now if you are able to combine these privileges uniquely available to Greece with the local traditions of each periphery one can add great genuine value to the tourist product which can sell at a premium to the all inclusive product. A product which is identical whether you find it in Greece , Turkey, Croatia ,Spain or wherever its available. So maintaining the all inclusive is not a long term strategy for a country empowered with such abundant riches. It degrades its inherited wealth to the lowest common denominator and transforms what can become a unique experience into a mere cheap commodity.

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    1. How can one not agree with you! I would only suggest that before tearing down something which one has (all-in), one should build up what one wants to have (premium tourist product). For several years now, I have only seen the tourist product of Chalkidiki, but that a lot, and a bit on the Northwestern side of the country. In Chalkidiki I don’t see a tourist product. At best a commodity, as you say. Apart from the few big resorts (all-in, of course), I see average quality hotels with menus and signs in Russian and other languages and the overall impression is one of cheap tourism. And one of the nicest beaches has just been sold to a Russian who plans to build a resort there. All-in, of course. Frankly, I have been yearning for the type of tourist product which you describe and I have often blamed my Greek wife for not finding it. So – before we became part-time residents in Greece - we always ended up on the beaten path of tourists, sometimes in AAA-resorts which could also have been in the middle of the desert, other times in normal hotels which smacked of cheap tourism. Of Greece I didn’t see much in either of the two places.

      The closest I ever got to what you have in mind was in the Zagorochoria. Particularly Papingo and Aristi were terrific examples of a tourist product. However, I have no idea how one could transplant this idea to Chalkidiki because that would require to first tear down everything that smacks of cheap tourism. And then one would have to attract a totally new customer segment. I don’t want to sound pessimistic but at my age I don’t think I will live to see that.

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    2. Mr. Robert Guy,

      Ideally, i would agree with you. However, this needs a well organized plan and money. Currently, nor the state nor privates have money to make big changes. Everyone is on survival mode. The society is in a situation where every month they wait to see what happens, what they troika will say, what will not say, etc. The visit every 3 months of the troika to give the "dose" has been described like the dose of heroin the drug addict is waiting for. "Will we get it? Will we go to the drachma"? In order for money to come out of safe boxes, foreign bank accounts, etc, the country needs to feel stable. Until then, everyone , including in tourism sector, is watching his steps. Would you throw a load of euros in a new plan, if you are afraid that a few months down the road, your investment will be transformed in depreciated drachmas?

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    3. Mr. Kastner,

      Tourism, works much like other business. Supply, demand, competition. Like you say, you can't just demolish what's already there and if they don't have money, they won't make something mew. Chalkidiki, historically, was more a place for northern Greeks to do vacations, that weren't wealthy enough to travel to islands. With the collapse of the Eastern Block, it became preferred destination of tourists from the Balkans and Russia, who don't have strong currency. As long as the locals are happy with the income they get, they stay as they are, especially in such times.

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    4. Back to more trivial things Mr. Kastner, that don't require gran planning. Minister Stathakis just said that open shops on Sundays will be abolished. These were actually appreciated by tourists visiting big cities that have tourism like Athens or cruise ship passengers that have a few hours to go ashore and can buy something.

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  5. I am glad you think along those lines and I am sure many other visitors whether Greek or international.What I am suggesting is to try to combine the traditional elements of the local community in each instance , whether that is architecture, entertainment, food, history , culture and provide the visitor with this rich experience. It is true that so far the Greek tourist product has ben highly opportunistic and self serving like everyhting else in the country including the people that governed it and the result is the tourist product which you have encountered in Halkidiki and in most of Greece for that matter with a few exceptions. Zagorohoria is one very fine example as you quite rightly say of such product worth promoting. I guess we have to start somwhere and draw the line. It is very promising that this New Syriza government has this strategy. Its a good start, lets hope they can implement their ideas along with private initiative and that it does not remain another endless dream. We must protect and deservedly showcase Hellenic wealth.

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    1. Mr Robert Guy,

      I am afraid you are reading too much on what SYRIZA said. SYRIZA MPs, when going into detail, simply say, that the tourist instead of going to the local tavern or small shop that sells orange juice, consumes everything in the hotel and the small shop outside gets nothing. Not quite the same as you imagined.

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  6. Tsipras' talk about wrapping up the negotiations with the lenders in July or August also is not very good news for tourism. Who is going to book a holiday in Greece if there might be a grexit with all its consequences in the middle of the tourist season?

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    1. Mr. Seukel,

      Tsipras, since 2010, where the deficit was huge, was claiming that he could do better and that those who signed memorandum were traitors, Merkel's servants, Germany's lap dogs, etc.
      Now, he receives the economy, with primary surplus, he doesn't have to cut salaries or pensions, he has much better tax office which is based on computer programs, which from this year could do a registry of assets of each individual, he has health system with much reduced expenses and generic drugs, which he so much fought, he knows the expenses of each ministry in detail, as well an personnel and pensioner numbers, so, if he waits a bit, how bad could he do? Let's say he is back at 2010! If he could do better back then, how much can the impact on tourism can cost him! Peanuts. Besides, he has a production reorganization plan. He will finally tax the rich. The minister already informed the farmers that they will immediately get 12.000 euros tax free limit and no ENFIA. The only problem i see, is that unless he uses the new electronic registry, no farmer will pay taxes (because most of them "have" less than 12.000 euro income) and if they pay no ENFIA, it only means that the cities will be taxated harder on real estate.
      On the other hand, farmers were the usual owners of Porsche in 2009. So, how are you make the rich pay taxes, if you say they are poor... Some farmers have huge land in fertile valleys and now they get to pay no property tax too... The fight against the rich has begun.

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    2. "It is for you that we all embark on this struggle! To put shoes on your feet, food in your children's mouths! We are fighting to change your life, to raise you up from poverty and humiliation, to make you men!" - ELAS in the 1940s.

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  7. Mr. Kastner,

    I would agree with you, but in parallel the governement should also do the following aside from leaving toursim alone.

    1. Yes, leave tourism alone and help further flourish but,
    2. Make continious check at all hotels and major resorts which provide these all inclusive packages, that the man power at these hotels are ON THE BOOKS. Not black market labour.
    3. Receipts are issued.
    4. If the above is not done, immediate fine paid immediately to the governement or shut down of the hotel.

    I am sorry to say one of the most corrupt industries is the tourist inductry. half the workers are not paying insurance, half are being paid with black money and basically have slave labour. few hotels declare all and are the hotels which i myself support. Meanwhile many do not issue receipts.

    V

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  8. Minister Kountoura (ANEL): There will be no action against all-inclusive model. On the contrary, such packages will be upgraded, with the aim to "spillover" benefits to the local markets.

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  9. Mr Anonymous, you didn't really answer my question:
    Who is going to book a holiday in Greece if there might be a grexit with all its consequences in the middle of the tourist season?
    Tourists want to make their bookings very soon. Any doubts about the situation in Greece this summer will make them look at other destinations.

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    1. Mr. Seukel,

      Bookings for next year, actually start as early as October. I am in no position to tell you how many cancellations there will be, but rest assured, that Tsipras has a plan.

      In case you haven't discerned my amusement and sarcasm on the matter, let me tell you that i am no fan of Mr. Tsipras. But his fans say he has a plan. So, there. He has a plan! I imagine, the plan is to end negotiations earlier or by the time summer comes, he will be printing drachma, so at this point, Mr. Tsipras will have to explain how he will find the money for his program after an impact on tourism.

      Mr. Seukel, i have been tired to try to convince both foreigners and my compatriots, that just because you are leftist and you say you have good heart, isn't going to bring jobs or money. I have failed. At this point, i may as well leave the elections winners show their plan. There are some points in their plan that are too obscure for me to understand.

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