As it seems, the coronavirus pandemic will leave behind many Greek accommodations, mainly large seasonal units, as the zero reservations in combination with the increased operating costs and the empty funds will be prohibitive for their opening this limited season this year.
The most optimistic place the actual start of the season in July, believing that about three out of ten hotels will not open this year, while the most pessimistic fear that especially in seasonal accommodation the ratio of open – closed will eventually reach 50-50 leaving behind huge debts. and thousands of jobs lost.
At the same time, the conditions under which our country will safely reopen its gates to international tourism remain a mystery. The mass control of tourists at the country’s entry points with rapid tests and the relevant health certificate seems to be the solution that is preferred, but the last word will be given to scientists.
As the Minister of Tourism, Haris Theocharis, points out to “Ethnos on Sunday”, the ministry has already informed that the only solution that could ensure a certain percentage of tourism for this year is the mass tests at the country’s entrance gates, which could to take place at the Athens Airport, which has already informed that it will discreetly allocate the spaces for such a thing, or that the airlines will take over. However, all this presupposes that the agreement of the experts will have preceded it as security remains the first priority “, he notes.
An additional condition, as the minister explains, is that the tests be reliable, while clear and strict protocols will be set by the health committee for the coronavirus in case a case is found in tourist destinations.
At the same time, there seems to be no alternative, which would exclude tourists from countries at the heart of the pandemic, as it would be difficult to find a practical application as borders cannot be opened or closed.
In any case, the gradual lifting of measures will be the beginning of a harsh reality for all tourism entrepreneurs.
The heart of the problem includes, apart from the situation in Greece and the recovery margins that the time will be left for the hotels to reopen, two other very key factors. The first is the health situation that will prevail in the given period in the countries – sources for Greek tourism as well as the issue of transporting visitors, ie when, with what frequency and from which destinations will resume air travel, which they have “Freeze”.
Practically, restart for Greece is not enough, if it is not combined with the lifting of measures and the rest of the countries, which operate as power supplies for Greek tourism.
Given that the main power supply … five for our country (England, France, Germany, Italy and the US) is currently at the center of the pandemic (with the exception of Germany, which seems to be better at managing the situation), it should to target new markets. These, as pointed out in a recent statement by the president of the Association of Greek Tourism Businesses, Giannis Retsos, will be countries that have traditionally had relations with Greece and effective management of the corona. These included Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon and the Arab markets and the Balkans in general. Especially for the Balkans, he said, last year we had about 10 million road arrivals, most of them from the Balkans.
At the same time, the insecurity of Greek society in smaller places will have to be fought, as it remains to be seen whether the local communities of small islands with extremely weak health structures will welcome tourists from abroad.
The tourism sector appears to be heavily betting on the 18-month-old voucher set-up announced by the tourism minister to stem the tide of non-performing travel refunds, and threatens to deplete the industry’s near-zero liquidity today.
Many hotels across Greece are trying to negotiate their reservations with vouchers, as according to the president of the Heraklion Hoteliers Association, there are whole groups of tourists who have already transferred their packages for the spring and summer of 2021.
He says that in Crete they choose to see the best case scenario, estimating that the season will start on July 1: “Fortunately, people have entered the logic of the coupon and not the cancellation. However, there are currently millions of bookings on the air. Of course, many of them are fictitious. Nothing can move since there are no flights. ”
And in Crete, however, the “opening” of hoteliers is great “There are checks, suppliers, 95% of the hotels on the island have been renovated. Many not only have not amortized the cost but still owe it to the contractors. But we hope that once the measures are lifted, Crete will be the first to open. If we manage to do that from July 1st, we may reach the season by November and reduce the losses somewhat. ”
As for domestic tourism, Mr. Chalkiadakis does not seem to have any illusions: “Unfortunately, the Greek market does not cover us. We are talking about huge hotel units. ”
“Travel will be difficult this year, even when the measures are lifted,” said Babis Voulgaris, president of the Corfu Hoteliers Association, noting that reservations are almost zero: We do not know what will happen with air travel, while at the same time there is no mood for travel and the liquidity of hoteliers and visitors has been hit hard “, he adds, adding that Corfu practically lives entirely from tourism, as apart from the accommodation the whole economy of the island depends on it (restaurants, bars and even shops).
Hoteliers all over Greece do not only have to deal with the mass cancellations, but also the contract changes required by tour operators: points out the president of the Santorini Hoteliers Association, Antonis Iliopoulos.
His own estimates for Santorini are that if the hotels on the island work in June they will have occupancy of up to 30-35%, in July 60-65% and in August 70-77%.
As for domestic tourism, he points out that Santorini cannot rely on it as traditionally the Greeks were only 5-10% of the island’s tourist traffic, while “thorn” is therefore what will happen. with the schools, that is, when they will reopen, if the school year will be extended and when the Panhellenic ones will be held. However, in the first phase, only one of the three hotels operating on the island will open this year.
For his part, Costas Andrianopoulos, director of a large hotel in Messinia and head of the Kalamata School of Tourism, estimates that mainland Greece will recover first mainly because it offers a way out for travelers: “I estimate that island Greece will suffer more. Air travel will be a problem for a long time to come, “he said.
He notes that more than 65% of hotels have already made significant investments in maintenance and renovation, adding that the biggest problem is the loss of thousands of jobs in the industry. “Immediate subsidy of labor is needed.”
The wounds left behind by the pandemic of the corona and the tourism of Kefalonia are profound. And although businesses on the island are generally “tidy,” as old hoteliers describe them, there are those who, before the new disaster found them, were trying to close the holes left behind by Thomas Cook’s cannon last fall.
No one still knows how many of the island’s hotels will open their doors this year when this is allowed. The main problem there is the increased operating costs in a hotel with low levels of occupancy.
“The only communications that hoteliers have at the moment are for cancellation of contracts, refunds in advance and negotiation for the transfer of voucher packages to later periods,” said Gerasimos Timotheatos, president of the island’s hoteliers.
He adds that for the most part, “this year is over. Many large units will not even open. The costs are very high. On the contrary, the smaller ones will try to do what they can at the family level by putting even more personal work “.
source – ethnos.gr