If Greeks were under illusion that their country’s exit from the eurozone is being entertained, it has been dispelled by German tour operator TUI.
After Germany and France tore up the block’s own rulebook with the announcement that a Greek departure from the EU was no longer inconceivable, the travel giant demanded that hoteliers in Greece agree to renegotiate contracts in drachmas.
Amid all the political and economic uncertainty surrounding the debt-stricken country, the spectre of Athens returning to its old currency had suddenly been raised. “It’s very sad and we think they have jumped the gun,” said the Greek travel executive Christina Tetradis. “I have heard that TUI has sent letters with a clause mentioning drachmas to hoteliers in Crete, which is their largest market.”
Tetradis, who presides over the association of hotel owners in the Ionian isles, said Greek hoteliers gathered would tackle the tour operator over the move.
“We don't understand and we want them to take it back,” she said. “We are going to raise it with them.”
TUI acknowledged that it had asked hotel partners in Greece to renegotiate contracts to protect against loss. “We have to protect ourselves against these kinds of currency risks,” said TUI spokesman Robin Zimmermann.
With tourism accounting for nearly 20% of GDP and one in five Greeks working in the sector, industry figures in Athens worry that TUI’s move will encourage others to follow suit.