MELBOURNE’S Greek community fears tourists will stay away from their homeland after this week’s riots in Athens.
The Federal Government’s Smart Traveller website urges Australians to “exercise caution” when travelling to Greece.
This comes after three people, including a pregnant woman, were killed in riots that broke out overnight in Athens.
Greeks took to the streets to protest against budget cuts and tax hikes aimed to avoid national bankruptcy.
Dandenong MP John Pandazopoulos said the riots were unlikely to affect Greek expats from travelling home.
But he was concerned the riots projected a poor image to potential tourists.
But Mr Pandazopoulos, who is also the Australian president of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association, said the images of protests were not how Greeks wanted their country to be seen.
“At the end of the day, it is very safe, but with all the images you end up seeing… if you’re not from a Greek heritage, why would you go there?” he said.
“I think the concern in Greece at the moment is that this it the time that people are making their decisions about their summer holidays.”
Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria president Bill Papastergiadis also said the riots would not stop Australians of Greek heritage going home.
“People will still regularly travel to Greece. Demonstrations are a relatively common part of how Greeks express themselves,” he said.
Mr Papastergiadis said he expected things to quieten down over the next week or so.
Sixth Box Hill Hellenic Scout Group leader Kathy Douros said Greeks abroad were used to demonstrations and long-term travel would not be impacted.
Ms Douros said from what she had been hearing “this should blow over in a month’s time before the tourist season begins”.
Mr Pandazopoulos said with every negative, there was also an upside.
“It’s a good time to invest if you’re a Greek Australian, or if you want to build a holiday house in Greece,” he said.