German travel firms eye pick-up in Greece bookings

FRANKFURT Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:13pm EDT

Foreign tourists visit the Parthenon atop Athens' Acropolis hill October 15, 2010. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Foreign tourists visit the Parthenon atop Athens' Acropolis hill October 15, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German tour operators are banking on a pick-up in bookings to Greece after pro-bailout parties secured an election majority, easing concerns the debt-mired country could exit the euro zone.

"After the ... victory of the moderate parties we expect the number of bookings to rise," Alltours chief Willi Verhuven said on Tuesday.

Tourism generates about a fifth of Greece's gross domestic product. In the first quarter, the country's income from this source dropped 15 percent.

Travel firms and airlines in Germany reported bookings down a third last month, as scenes of violence in Athens and reports of an attack on a man thought to be German prompted sun-seekers to book holidays in Spain or Turkey.

Hotels, airlines and tour operators have slashed prices by up to 30 percent to lure tourists back to Greek beaches.

Alltours, Germany's No.5 tour operator, said bookings to Greece rose 13 percent in the first half of June thanks to increased marketing and deep price cuts.

A Thomas Cook (TCG.L) spokesman said the election result was a step toward stabilisation and greater confidence.

Rival TUI Germany (TUIGn.DE) (TT.L) said bookings to Greece this season were still down by a double-digit percentage, though sentiment was improving by the week.

"We are hoping for strong last-minute business and are optimistic the situation will stabilise," a spokeswoman for TUI Germany said. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Additional reporting by Peter Maushagen; Editing by David Hulmes)

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