The Greek Economy

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Chris
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The Greek Economy

Post by Chris » Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:15 pm

Reading and listening to media sources it is now obvious that Greece is a in financial turmoi. Under the rules of the Euro Zone Greece apparently does not qualify any longer as a member, because of its high level of debt. Any money they borrow now has to be returned at a much higher rate of interest than most other member EU States. The government have decided to reduce their public spending unlike as never seen before. This in turn will no doubt have repercussions on everyone and anyone who has dealings, or visits Greece. Because of its appalling financial status Greece has been issued with many fines, apparently and according to sources Greece has lost count. This can only add further injury. The Prime Minister in a news report, gave the first real indication of a possibility of emergency measures being taken by the government to sort out the reeling economy, indicating the country’s serious debts as a definate threat to the National Sovereignty.

A very serious situation. What do our readers think of this, and what are your own opinions.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by Chris » Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:47 pm



Your first line is what I thought at first Simon, but I looked into the world market sites, and as reported, Greece is in serious trouble. It is also reported in various Greek newspapers, all really depicting the same story.

I absolutely agree on your thoughts with such places as France, having spent a lot of time there over the past two years.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by Chris » Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:35 pm



Now that it is confirmed that Greece is in deep financial troubles, with near £300bn in debt, and the refusal of help or bailout from other countries, the Greek government have decided to input changes to the monetory network in the form of increases. Increases on Fuel Tax, and introducing another 2% on VAT. This will push up fuel which has just had an increase, and the VAT upto 20 - 21%. On food, this will see and increase of upto 13%, a huge increase from 9%. No doubt the knock effect will hit not only the locals, but also the likes of us as the tourists.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by andy_gills1 » Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:48 pm

Hi Chris,

I have been observing from the UK Greece's difficult times ... why is it always the people (locals and tourists) that have to bail these governments out every time?

Increases in taxes will only serve to reduce the amount of visitors through the critical summer period, thus damaging the Greek economy further.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by janmanessi » Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:54 pm

Simon: its (Greece's) high dependence on the fragile tourist market - which lets face it can blow like the wind

absolutely right Simon, sometimes I think that the best thing that could happen would be if tourism collapsed completely and a more realistic and viable source of income would have to be found!

andy_gills 1i ncreases in taxes will only serve to reduce the amount of visitors through the critical summer period, thus damaging the Greek economy further.

Prices have risen in the last years, but how else can new roads, hospitals etc be funded. If these were not there tourists would complain, locals would suffer. If Greece is a full member of the EU why should Greeks have to put up with substandard public services? These things come with a price, and it has to be paid by someone.

Greek salaries are incredibly low, many manage to support a family on 600 Euros a month- of course the tourist coming over will have more than that, and so should be taxed (indirectly) accordingly!

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by Chris » Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:32 pm

janmanessi wrote: 1. Prices have risen in the last years, but how else can new roads, hospitals etc be funded. If these were not there tourists would complain, locals would suffer. If Greece is a full member of the EU why should Greeks have to put up with substandard public services? These things come with a price, and it has to be paid by someone.

2. Greek salaries are incredibly low, many manage to support a family on 600 Euros a month- of course the tourist coming over will have more than that, and so should be taxed (indirectly) accordingly!
In answer to (1 above). As we dedicate this forum to Corfu, lets look at the roads and hospitals as you have mentioned them. Roads are still in a state of repair, and have been for years. The only road I find any good is the North Paleokastritsa Road from Corfu Town out through Kontokali and Gouvia. The same place as the carcass of a hospital has been stood for the best part of 6 or 7 years, and is just about to be open to the locals and tourists. I believe that Greece overall has no proper governance over its occupants in the paying of taxes and insurances, thus a large amount of income stays in the pockets of most Greeks. This is part of the reason why it has retained high fuel taxes and VAT, with further increases as I posted above. I am certainly not saying that the tourist does not pay indirectly, and so they should if they wish to use it, but, one can say on the other hand, the amount we have to pay to get to Corfu, what we pay for accommodation which invariably most is taken by the Tour Operators, and if medical treatment is needed, we either pay for it, or obtain reciprocal treatment, which is then paid for between governments.

In answer to (2 above). Again I am intrigued as to why you think the tourist should be taxed, indirectly or otherwise. Are you saying that prices should be increased so that tourists pay more than the locals for produce, medical care, etc. As I said, we pay enough as it is, and of course, if prices rise anymore to compensate for an incompetent financial system, then Greece overall may lose more tourists. Not me I might add.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by Etsiketsi » Sat Feb 27, 2010 6:25 pm

Janmanessi

I don't know whether you are Greek or not but what you are saying is exactly the opposite to what I hear from our Corfiote friends. They are of the opinion that most Tourists are already paying more than they ought to for their holidays.

They cite the charges that are levied in the likes of of Spain and Portugal. One friend in particular has said that the reason for the decline in the numbers of visitors to the Island in the last four or five years can be attributed to this rise in charges. He, in fact has not increased his prices appreciably for fo two or three years.

I have to agree with Chris on this one.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by mitera » Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:25 pm

I would never stop going back to Greece , but i usually go twice a year this year i will only go once as i found the prices much less affordable last year , i just cannot afford the prices we paid last year . i have however been to Spain and will go again later in the year , and i can assure you i would much rather be in Greece , but the prices for drinks and food are much cheaper there , drinks in Greece last year were 4 euros without a mixer , as i said before i will never pay 4 pounds here for a drink , maybe in a night club they charge that (which i would never go to anyway ) and Greek Salads had almost doubled in price in some places , for me . i just cant afford it as i said , i think some Greeks put their prices up last year to compensate for the lack of tourists , wont work as there are places like America that lots of my friends have started to got to with families because its better value for money , also Bulgaria and the like , which i just would never consider but many will and do go to , i dont know what the answer is , i just found the Greeks to be a bit greedy last year , some serving frozen food and charging up to 3 euros each for the bread , we never were charged that before , and some not being overly interested in us either , it was becoming well , if you dont want to pay then go some where else , which is fair enough but considering quite a few places had already shut down we didnt have as much choice , some of the prices we saw last year were ridiculous god , thought i was in the Hilton :shock: , and for what we got , just wasnt worth it . i actually went back with an ouzo i bought and said there was none in it :grin: it was as if they had put some around the rim of the glass to taste, but there was nothing in it , they changed it , i mean years ago it wasnt the done thing to complain in Greece we just accepted it , i even took a pair of shoes back last year , i bought them and after about an hour the sole started to come off , so i went back and politely told the girl what happened , she said ..wait here .. she then left me in the shop alone ran all the way along the road the the supermarket and came back with a tube of superglue rofl , i was so taken a aback i took it and left , now ..thats more like the Greece i know and love :grin: :grin:

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by janmanessi » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:39 am

Hi- maybe I had better try and clarify what I was trying to say and also comment on earlier posts- will attempt to keep to the topic!

Someone said they wondered if I was Greek. Well, thanks to my marriage I have dual nationality. We have a family home on Corfu, and I am really accepted in the local community, however to many islanders I will, of course, always be looked at as a foreigner. I feel that in Corfu I am a Corfiote, and when in UK I am British! The two ways of life are so different that it is easy to 'compartmentalise!'

Chris talks about the roads and hospital- both ongoing sagas. The roads are a lot better than they were, however whilst Corfu lacks a major arterial road heavy lorries have to use small lanes, destroying surfaces. The heavy rain also erodes from below and this winter a number of roads have been wholly or partially washed away due to the torrential downpours. Also a number of communities are finally putting in mains drainage- inevitably more digging up of roads. In the main though the roads are a lot better than they used to be- and one thing in favour of potholes- they make people drive more slowly! What is impressive in Corfu though is the litterpicking done by local authorities, their teams are out on a daily basis- something UK should copy.

Hospital and medical treatment.....whilst the new hospital will hopefully be a pleasanter place to stay, for those living in the south it means a longer journey until the bypass road is completed (if ever as it goes through a graveyard and relatives of the 'residents' have put up successful opposition so far). The building worries me less than the care I would receive. Medical standards on the island have always been excellent, but where it falls down is the nursing, or lack of it, and this needs more than a new building to change the attitude. The current crisis may make it harder to implement plans to set up training for nurses so that it becomes a respected profession rather than a job you do if you cannot get a job in a hotel. One thing about the hospital that cannot change is the difficulty of one building catering for the needs of a small winter population and a hugely expanded summer one. Talk to anyone involved in health care in Cornwall for example, they have the identical problem- thousands of people coming in on holiday who do not pay local council tax etc yet need to use the facilities of the county.

Tour operators payments to many hotels are derisory, a friend in Benitses was offered 5 Euros per bed per night- he is going independent but is struggling. Tour Operators see their demise in sight, it has been a short lived industry, only really got going in the 70s, and now with the internet times are changing again, and most will disappear. i think there is room for the small specialist company which is adaptable, but your old fashioned big operator with a brochure which shows nothing of the country, but only how many pools a hotel has for example- the writing is on the wall, and apart from their employees one cannot feel sorry for them! However, the marketing power of the companies has helped the small hotels etc. and they will find it difficult to branch out on their own and reach their potential clients.

Greece has always been more expensive in the main than Spain- flights are longer, therefore costlier for a start, and the Spanish government has done a lot more to help tourism than the Greeks. The government here has rules on things like size of portions of food, and what should be served (hence that ubiquitous cake which appears at breakfast) but has done little to encourage people to raise the quality. I agree entirely with Simon (I think it was) who said that cheap drinks are sold as branded ones and frozen food is sold as fresh- at the higher price of course! This is totally unforgiveable, and establishments that do this should be boycotted. maybe there is an argument for producing a 'Michelin' style guide to the island, to praise those who really care about quality- and there are quite a few- now that is a project i might pursue!!

Should tourists pay more than locals is a difficult one. I know that when i go for a drink in summer I pay less than the tourists at the next table- but I might go almost every night, so in a way my discount is showing appreciation of my loyalty. yesterday, as every Sunday, we went to our favourite fish taverna. We go summer and winter and I know we pay less there because of that, but I would be much more upset if my taverna owner friend served poor quality to tourists rather than charging them a bit more. Am I right? I do not think that visitors should ever be charged exorbitant prices, as some places do, but one problem in Corfu is that one building has had to support so many families- the owner who rents it out, the family of the person who rents it, and the families of his or her employees- to do this nowadays is almost impossible. The crisis already (even in winter) means that restaurants are seeing fewer people eating out, and they are worrying about the summer to come.

I certainly don't think tourists should be taxed for coming to Corfu- although Venice did try and introduce one some years ago in an attempt to raise money to stop the city sinking. I think though that tourists have to accept that Greece is a member of the EU, therefore its citizens have a right to expect education, healthcare etc. to gradually be raised to be on a par with the rest of Europe, and to get these prices and taxes have to be increased. If people want to holiday for very little they now have to look outside the EU to countries where the cost of living is low, labour costs cheap- and the result is probably very picturesque for the tourist, but life is hard for the locals- as it used to be in Greece in the old days.

One of the posts above confuses Corfu and its problems with Greece as a whole. Corfu is a monoculture, relying solely on tourism, to its cost. Before tourism was the olive, and before that Malmsey wine- always a monoculture- very dangerous. However the rest of Greece is much more diversified, although tourism is still important- as it always will be with such magnificent archaeological sites.

I hope I have not rambled too far from the topic, but these issues are all related to the economy, if things were healthy many could be righted relatively easily. As it is........well, it will be interesting to see what happend.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by Chris » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:51 am



Hi Janmanessi.

A well thought out post, and clearly explains much easier as to what you have been trying to put to the forum. There is much in your words I do agree with, and can see ahead that hopefully some of this, if not all will be implemented into the Corfu structure. By this I mean the demise of the Tour Operator in the first instance. I have friends on the island who up until last year ran what I would class as a very good and well run hotel in Kontokali. Unfortunately they were under a TO who like most ripped them off by giving in return a very small payment for each room, if I recall, around €8 per room. The company went bust, owing this hotel and many others a very lot of money, which after long battles they still did not receive. For the next few years they went with a Dutch company, and again the same thing happened. So for the past two years until their retirement, they were independent, but at their ages found it too much. Their daughter now runs the complex as long term rentals. It was so sad to read their letters and listen to them on our visits, from all the hard work they put in, to this. So it is time that more try the independent route, in particular if they have the years on their side. Which brings me on to the next point.

Grading of accommodation, restaurants, etc. Sadly, like Simon I too have experienced the frozen food syndrome, and the branded drinks also. Having been trained, and qualified as a Pub Manager, and as a Brewery Inspector, I had a nose for the latter, and could usually tell the difference, so invariably I would return the drink. Then again, I have always said to many on this forum, and other forums (nameless) that if you want a branded drink to ask for it, but at the same time be aware that 1, you know the difference, and 2, if you suspect, do not be frightened to return it. However, I also point out, one can save a lot of money over a period of a holiday by drinking the unbranded drinks when it comes to spirits.

It is a shame about the nursing saga. As most will know there are many nurses over here in the UK who would dream the dream of working somewhere like Corfu, or even on the Greek mainland in hospitals, but alas it would defeat the object as being poorly paid in the UK, they would certainly be heading for a lesser wage in Greece, and of course Corfu. In respect of the hospital, I would imagine the same still stands had it remained in Corfu Town, namely vehicular access by road from the South to the hospital. Regarding the new road, one hears the argument over the cemetary, but having looked at various maps, google pictures, surely this could be bypassed, or is it a case of waiting to see if the new airport goes ahead, which will make it worth while spending the money for a new road.

I still standby the matter of VAT increases. I do not see this being passed on to the tourist via the restaurant and bars, but obviously will do via the supermarkets for those self catering. The reason I say this, is that those who own and run restaurants and bars, need the custom, and in the present climate, competition must be rife to ensure that they retain the customers. I know some restaurants and/or tavernas (nameless) do charge extortionate prices, and believe they are warranted because of costs, but then tell you they catch such things as fish themselves.

Finally, I hope Greece and its government find a solution and a solution quick, and that the people of Greece, in particular those involved with the tourist industry get together and find ways to decrease the deficit without too much being past on to the tourist. I feel this would be fatal for the islands and the industry.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by janmanessi » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:21 pm

Chris: the demise of the Tour Operator........

I would not regret the demise of many tour operators, but I do wonder how the small places would manage to market their properties.

The old days of ladies in black standing at port and airport offering accommodation are long gone I am afraid, and not all owners are internet savvy enough to manage unaided

Corfu is not famous for it 'cooperative spirit' yet I think a number of owners would have to band together to advertise successfully- apart from anything else potential clients are not going to trawl through thousands of small websites

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by Chris » Mon Mar 01, 2010 2:34 pm




What could and would help the owners of accommodations, etc, is the number of websites that are up and coming, in particular on Corfu. Many of those who have decided to take up residence on Corfu have in their own resorts/locations set up websites. For example, Agios Georgios South, Roda, Arillas, and many others. One only has to look at the websites, and one will see many accomodation being advertised for those who have decided to take the independent road. This illeviates the setting up of such a website on an individual basis, or indeed directing them to those who do have their own websites. Either way, a list far better than one can imagine emerges, but only on a few websites. I am sure if someone wishing to visit Corfu either on an independent basis, or a reduced budget will find the time to wade through the websites, or to gain information from a forum such as this one. I know myself have helped many people out both on this forum, and other nameless forums. One has to remember that over the years the customer has changed his ways of finding and searching for holidays, mainly via the internet, thus it would be beneficial if those providing to the customer could do the same, either on their own or by using a multi web forum.

The Holiday Corfu Forum provides that avenue. Many visit and register with us in search of the holiday they wish for. We, as the members of this forum, with varying depths of experience can offer that information from an unbias position, even directing them to a particular website for further, more direct information.

What is needed by the Corfiot business people, and indeed other holiday islands, is a sligh kick up the backside. If they want to maintain their business, and in particular their holiday business, then they need to move forward, regardless of their beliefs, and thinking of the old times. This does not mean turning away from the Corfu we have all grown to love and cherish, far from it, but to ensure that the customer continues to visit Corfu, and to the best of everyones ability retains the wonderful holidays we are use to.

Miters (Susie) pointed out in an earlier post that other European countries, and those within the Eurozone are also feeling the pinch, but maintain a cheaper level in particular for the tourist. I myself have been visiting France for extra annual holidays, and whilst excepting that France is a much bigger country, it is immediately evident that costs are cheaper in the way of food, fuel, restaurants, drinks, etc.

In conclusion, I will continue, subject to my medical condition, visit Corfu and Zakynthos as much as possible. However, more needs to be done by those in business on Corfu and Zakynthos. We have the money, and we want to spend it, but we need to get a fair exchange.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by Etsiketsi » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:30 pm

Chris wrote:


What is needed by the Corfiot business people, and indeed other holiday islands, is a sligh kick up the backside. If they want to maintain their business, and in particular their holiday business, then they need to move forward, regardless of their beliefs, and thinking of the old times. This does not mean turning away from the Corfu we have all grown to love and cherish, far from it, but to ensure that the customer continues to visit Corfu, and to the best of everyones ability retains the wonderful holidays we are use to.

Miters (Susie) pointed out in an earlier post that other European countries, and those within the Eurozone are also feeling the pinch, but maintain a cheaper level in particular for the tourist. I myself have been visiting France for extra annual holidays, and whilst excepting that France is a much bigger country, it is immediately evident that costs are cheaper in the way of food, fuel, restaurants, drinks, etc.
Chris

I can't agree with you in all that you say.

It is not for us to say that Corfiote Businessmen "Need a Slight Kick Up the Backside". It is not our business it is theirs and as such it is nothing to do with us how they choose to run it.

It is OK to say that we might prefer it if things were "this way or that way" but not that they deserve a Kick up the backside. The way to initiate change is from the inside. By that I mean those in business need to initiate this change. I said last year when we returned from Liapades that they seemed busier than ever and the prices did not appear to have increased at all. I said on another thread (or maybe it was on this one) that our friends voiced their concerns at the way some "Cowboy" operators were increasing their prices. It seems to me that well estabilished Hoteliers are motre than aware of what is fair and behave accordingly.

Rog

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by Chris » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:21 pm



I was speaking hypothetically Roger, although I will say regardless of which way you look at it or read it, if the economy is to get back on its feet and we are to continue with the prices we are accustomed to, then they will have to have a change of view on this. Regardless of what you and others might say Roger, the days of the Greeks doing what they want to do are numbered, and if they are to maintain their livelihoods and businesses, then if it takes a nudge here and there, or indeed a kick up the backside, then so be it. I do not see why anyone should be exempt.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by andy_gills1 » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:55 am

Well, I read through the multitude of posts with interest, but the fact remains that the tourist will seemingly be footing the bill for the Greek governments mistakes.

There is no bail out from the EU and this is going to take years to put right.

As many have said, there will still be a good level of visitors (including me in May) through the critical summer months, but as I have seen on other Greek Islands in the past, many local businesses will sadly go under.

Some of the demise must be put down to the authorities making a quick buck out of new all-inclusive resorts I feel over the last few years. These developments might give an injection of cash at first, but undoubtedly local shops, tavernas and bars suffer in the long run.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by Chris » Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:22 am



Hi Andy.

You are probably right Andy, but if we still visit Corfu than what ever happens we will see it through our pockets. Then we have to weigh up the odds. To we continue to visit Corfu, as you have already stated, or do we go else where. Personally, I would continue to go to Corfu, and will do.

We must remember that the Greek government discarded the idea of an EU bail out. They feel they can go it alone so to speak.

For years now the advent of AI holidays have been the bane of Corfu and many other destinations because it just does that, it takes away the economy from the local sources, with their abundance of food, free drinks, etc etc. The point is, because they are big complexes, and many, in particular family groups use them solely for that purpose (in my opinion), they will in some way hold the monopoly. Personally, and this is something I have thought about for years, ever since friends of mine lost their business throught demise of a Tour Operator. Subject the the feasibility of the hotel, accommodation, ie, it is seen to be a viable business, perhaps the government could step in with some sort of scheme that allows the proprietor to retain the business on an Independent basis, therefore I would believe giving up more taxes to the government on what is earned, plus a scheme to retrieve back the loan, but leaving the owners with good income and business. A sort of an incentive. I do not know if it would work. Things often seem easier from our point of view.

When asked questions like this, I always say what ever the cost is, if you love something, you will continue to do so, and enjoy it as you have always done. Added to this, I remind people to keep and eye on the exchange rate. Read reveiws from those visiting early in the season. With this information you can judge for yourselves how much is needed, so as to have that non worrying holiday one has always enjoyed.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by andy_gills1 » Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:08 pm

Well put Chris ... as you say I'm looking forward to my week from 17th May at the Kerkyra Island just outside Messonghi.

Spiros and his wife made us so welcome last year and we met a couple who are also going back the same time this year and the place is absolutely immaculate.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by Chris » Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:13 pm



Well Andy, we look forward to hearing all about your forthcoming holiday and visit to Corfu. A good review and some photographs will cheers up all no end. As an early season visitor, and no doubt you have seen my other thread, CORFU ECONOMY - WHAT DO YOU THINK, perhaps you can give us a first hand review of how much if any the financial problems in Greece has affected Corfu and its tourist industry. By this I mean Hotels, Accommodation, Restaurants, Taverna and Bar prices, etc etc. Anything that will help in finding out if there is a marked difference. Cheers.

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by andy_gills1 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:00 pm

Chris wrote:

Well Andy, we look forward to hearing all about your forthcoming holiday and visit to Corfu. A good review and some photographs will cheers up all no end. As an early season visitor, and no doubt you have seen my other thread, CORFU ECONOMY - WHAT DO YOU THINK, perhaps you can give us a first hand review of how much if any the financial problems in Greece has affected Corfu and its tourist industry. By this I mean Hotels, Accommodation, Restaurants, Taverna and Bar prices, etc etc. Anything that will help in finding out if there is a marked difference. Cheers.
Surely will on my return ... the holiday cost through Olympic hasn't differed much to last year, however I hope I can report some good news about the tavernas, bars, etc. :suun:

The Bank of Greece aren't exactly optimistic, check the story on BBC website today - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8580284.stm

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Re: The Greek Economy

Post by janmanessi » Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:52 pm

andy_gills1 some of the demise must be put down to the authorities making a quick buck out of new all-inclusive resort.......

fail to see how the authorities are making much money out of these resorts as the tour operators force the hotels to take their clients for so little money that even if the hotels declare every penny the tax would be minimal!

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