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Visitor numbers set to fall this summer across much of East Europe and Balkans

However, it is generally predicted that many people will wait until the last minute to book accommodation because of the credit crunch.

Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey and Romania are all expecting a downturn in visitor numbers this summer and some tourism chiefs are seeking extra funding for marketing.

Greece has already increased its advertising budget by 50% and introduced tax cuts for companies in the tourist sector, while Turkey has announced it will actively promote itself in 80 countries.

Turkey's Tourism Ministry has called for tax breaks and financial assistance to help those whose business depends on the tourist trade survive the economic slowdown.

'We expect that this summer season's turnout will largely depend on last minute reservations and the ability of those offering accommodation to attract visitors with competitive prices and good deals,' said a spokesman for the tourism ministry in Turkey.

The Head of the Bulgarian State Tourism Agency Aneliya Krushkova has predicted that the 2009 summer season will be poor. But in Bulgaria there is not a strategy yet to counteract the expected drop in demand. Already bookings are up to 50% down on last year in some areas.

Hungary is predicting a 5% fall in visitor numbers this year. Another blow for visitor numbers is that the Hungarian leg of the MotoGP looks set to be cancelled due to delays in the construction of the new circuit.

Spanish development group Sedesa, which is building the 80 million euro track, has failed to begin its part of the construction work on time. 'It is very likely that the circuit won't be ready and the race won't be able to go ahead,' said Istvan Gyenesei, the minister for local government.

He insisted that the Hungarian side had done all the necessary ground work for construction to begin this month. Hungary had announced last July that it planned to build a motorcycling circuit to host MotoGP competitions from 2009 onwards, with the 2009 leg scheduled for September 20. It was to replace the Shanghai MotoGP in China.