Destination management companies in Greece have insisted that event organisers face no financial risk, as the country prepares for its make-or-break referendum.
The left-wing Greek government and the “troika” – the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and the European Commission – are trading cat-and-mouse threats and promises.
Greece this week missed a deadline for a €1.5bn (US$1.7bn) payment to the IMF.
The referendum on July 5 will ask voters to say “no” or “yes” to a complicated question about the creditors’ conditions for a bailout.
DMCs in Greece said that which ever way the vote goes, events planners will be able to conduct business as usual.
George Kiayas, managing director at Optimum DMC in Fragoklissias Street in the Greek capital, said: “The Greek government is playing tricks. At this very moment I hear the prime minister has made a new offer, but we have to wait and see. I think the proposal in the referendum is meaningless.
“But whatever happens our clients’ money is safe. It is the same as organising an event in Turkey, for example. If you deal with a reputable DMC, it will know who the credible suppliers are, and it will take the risk.
“The first half of this year has been very strong for us. And 2016 looks amazingly good so far. Greece is still a safe country.
“Right now, we have 250 people coming in from Italy. They are from a tyre company, holding a conference and social events.
“Business from France and the UK is also strong. The only fall in business we have seen is from Germany for obvious reasons.”
Angela Kipling, managing director at Ovation Greece, in Voula, said the firm’s forward bookings are strong.
She said: “This week we looked after 63 people from large European affiliate of American conglomerate. They ate at Orizante restaurant overlooking the centre of Athens and were able to enjoy the demonstrations outside the Parliament building!
“For the last 18 months we have been facing uncertainty. We are used to dealing with this. We are prepared to be flexible and to wait for peoples’ deposits.
“This year we will see volume return to pre-crash levels. Companies are spending less on events – but that is a global thing. Margins are lower, but volume is up.”
But Alexis Lagoudakis, managing director of organiser ROTA, which manages the Metropolitan Expo Exhibition Centre (MEEC), near Athens airport, said that uncertainty surrounding a bailout agreement meant exhibitors were reluctant to commit to bookings for late 2015.
He said: “The past couple of weeks we’ve seen a slow down, right now we’re just on a hold-and-wait pattern to see what’s happening.”