With television images of anti-austerity rioters clashing with police in Athens, the Greek government hopes the pictures will not affect one of the country's main moneymakers -- tourism.
"Fortunately we do not see many cancellations, but we must be very careful to safeguard tourism and promote Greece's strong points," Yiorgos Telonis, chairman of the Hellenic association of travel and tourist agencies (Hatta), told AFP on Sunday.
But Telonis warned of the longterm effects the riots may have and would not rule out more cancellations, especially for hotels located around Syntagma, the capital's main square where most of the clashes took place last week.
Greek lawmakers on Wednesday voted a massive austerity package demanded by international creditors as an angry mob protested against the measures outside the Parliament building which overlooks the square.
Protestors shattered the marble stairs of the front entrances of three luxury hotels located around Syntagma square using the rubble as ammunition against the police.
The rioting prompted the high-end King George hotel to evacuate the building.
The Association of Athens-Attika Hotel Owners said it supported the decision as well as steps taken by other affected businesses.
"The association stands by the hotel that was forced to take extraordinary measures for the protection of its guests and employees," the association said on Thursday.
"Some foreign visitors are afraid of what they see on TV, but this only affects Athens, not the islands," a travel agent who would not give her name told AFP.
"That's why more and more planes fly directly to the islands, bypassing Athens," she added.
The Greek goverment is trying hard to persuade foreign tourists that Greece is a safe destination.
"These events, although unfortunate, were local and do not represent in any way everyday life in the city. Visitors in Athens continue to enjoy a secure and tranquil environment and a very vibrant cultural experience," Minister of Culture and Tourism Pavlos Yeroulanos said.
"Greece is a country that provides an excellent tourism product which must not be tarnished in any way. We must now turn the page."
"But honestly we don't get a second chance. What happened the other day was the beginning of a very dangerous situation," the minister said.
Government efforts to boost tourism in the wake of the political and social upheaval in North Africa that left thousands of tourists to seek other destinations such as Greece seem to be paying off.
"There is a five to six percent increase in the number of visitors from last year, with the figure expected to rise to eight percent in the coming months," the chairman of the association of travel and tourist agencies told AFP.
"Only through tourism will Greece achieve growth and reverse the recession troubling the country," Telonis added.
Greece's tourism industry generates 18 percent of gross domestic product.
Protests last year against the socialist government's austerity measures aimed at overcoming a severe debt crisis had specifically targeted key tourism infrastructure including hotels, Greece's main port of Piraeus and the Acropolis.
At the time, the government offered to compensate travellers stranded because of strikes. Price cuts by operators limited the damage to the industry but caused a fall in revenue.
The Bank of Greece has said income from tourism was down 7.3 percent to 9.45 billion euros (13.7 billion dollars) in the period to November 2010.
Source: AFP Global Edition