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HATTA: Shipping monopoly affects travel agencies

Changes in the shipping industry and the virtual disappearance of healthy competition between passenger lines is causing…

Changes in the shipping industry and the virtual disappearance of healthy competition between passenger lines is causing difficulties for travel agents, the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies(HATTA<.>) claims. HATTA said the situation was already becoming apparent at island destinations, which – the body believes – are now subject to the whims of oligarchs and their interests.

HATTA said the trend of merging seen in the sector – 80 percent of which is now controlled by Minoan Lines – has resulted in:

A reduction in ticket sales commission for travel agents.

Fewer discounts.

The abolition of special group rates.

A rise in prices of more than 20 percent.

The association pointed out that these monopolistic tendencies would lead to travel agents having to depend on a single central electronic booking system – FORTHNET, which is also controlled by Minoan.

It should be noted that Minoan controls the Argosaronic, Cycladic and northern Sporadic routes and a large portion of the Cretan routes, while it is the leading line of the Dodecanese.

Undoubtedly, the lack of competition will also affect island economies as the transport of all produce and goods will be determined by the policies of one company while it is highly likely that some services will be abolished or reduced in the name of economising.

Additionally, HATTA questions the discreet stance taken by the government and political parties towards the situation, which will likely see shipping lines earn high profit until cabotage is abolished (in four years` time). This, despite the fact that the vessels not only transport tourists but also serve a social need so cannot operate solely to draw profit.

HATTA and its members are determined to fight against monopolisation and intend taking the matter to relevant state and EU bodies.

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