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Economy

Greece Aiding Tourists Stranded by German Tour Operator FTI’s Bankruptcy

ATHENS – The abrupt bankruptcy of Europe’s third-largest tour operator and a major agency for visitors to Greece—Germany’s FTI—left some 7,500 tourists stranded in Greece, with the government and hoteliers scrambling to help them.

Greece’s Foreign Ministry quickly set up meetings at the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) office in Germany, while the headquarters in Athens reached out to hotel owners and others to cooperate in assisting the tourists.

This occurred just as the high season in Greece was beginning, with summer-like numbers in the spring and anticipation of a second straight record year after more than 31 million tourists visited in 2023, spending over €20 billion ($21.76 billion).

The ministry reportedly discussed ways to get the tourists back to their home destinations without interrupting their vacations. Germany is a major market for tourism in Greece, and FTI was a key player.

Hotels were reportedly to cover the cost of transfers to airports since they were not impacted financially, having already been paid by FTI. However, about 300 hotels in Greece were still owed €1.8 million ($1.96 million) from 2023 through the operator.

FTI filed for insolvency in a Munich court without notice, as bookings kept falling despite a €1 ($1.90) buyout proposal to keep it afloat. Suppliers insisted on advance payments, which the company said it couldn’t manage, reported Reuters.

The group has opened a hotline and a website for customers, it said in a statement. However, it will have to cancel or partially complete all trips from June 4, potentially affecting thousands of holiday-makers as summer approaches.

The German Foreign Ministry said that the tourism industry and travel insurance fund would handle repatriating and supporting the affected tourists and provide consular support if necessary to ensure a safe return.

The German Economy Ministry called the insolvency “tragic,” adding that it could not provide any additional assistance. The ministry will review how the bankruptcy will affect aid given to FTI during the pandemic, a finance ministry spokesperson said.

“It must be assumed that only small recoveries can be expected from the outstanding claims,” the spokesperson said, with the government awaiting approval for a sale of receivables to see how much could be recovered.

FTI employs 11,000 people worldwide and offers tours to more than 40 destinations globally through its 10,000 partner agencies in Germany. For 2022-23, it reported annual sales of around €4.1 billion ($4.46 billion).

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