Tourism: Everything is full on many islands – including 12,391 air passengers arriving into Kefalonia this week

Tourism in Greece has reached its peak , with the occupancy of hotels nationwide in the first twenty days averaging 80%, according to tourism operators, and Greek tourism still showing resilience despite adverse conditions due to pandemic but also fires.
According to them, the images from the fires that hit our country in the past may have traveled around the world, however they do not seem to have affected the dynamics of last minute bookings that predispose to the continuation of the good image in the September.

Crete and Rhodes are ranked in top 3 destinations booking the biggest tour operator in Europe, TUI, while traffic to popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini has hit red. The evolution of the pandemic remains an unbalanced factor, of course, for the goal of extending the tourist season until November, which could yield 50% of the 2019 revenues.

However, for fire-affected areas , and especially for  , all this is no longer valid, since the curtain of the tourist season falls prematurely and with great damage.

A typical example is the hoteliers of Northern Evia , who may have had very high bookings until the end of the month, but are forced to close their businesses due to the conditions and the damage caused by the catastrophic fires. But even those who are determined to stay afloat face a wave of cancellations.

This year for the region is lost, emphasizes in a letter to the Ministry of Tourism the president of hoteliers of the Prefecture of Evia Miltiadis Helmis asking for support. “The specially damaged accommodation, whether the buildings or their surroundings, are not going to work at all. In the other hotel units of Northern Evia that have not been damaged, e.g. “Edipsos, there are numerous cancellations and the advance payments of the reservations are returned” , he describes in his letter.

It is noted that Evia is a predominantly traditional family destinationwhere this year there was increased occupancy, as many Greeks preferred due to the pandemic easily accessible places by car. Respectively, in the Peloponnese, given that the fires mainly concern the mountainous volume, there are cancellations, which are by no means massive, so a quick recovery is expected, as the tourist operators say. Like Evia, which was over 70% full for August, the corresponding ones in the coastal areas of the Peloponnese exceed 80% for the current month, and in some even 90%, since both destinations were to the most popular this year for those who wanted to avoid traveling by boat or plane due to a pandemic.

At present, the Ministry of Tourism, in addition to the general support measures announced by the government through the Ministry of Finance and concerning the tourism businesses that were affected, has announced the utilization of the “Tourism for all” program from next year to stimulate tourist traffic in the affected areas. With regard to Northern Evia in particular, it proposes, inter alia, a tourism development plan that will be included in the broader integrated spatial investment plan proposed by the Benu Committee, a special program for the promotion of the region, as well as the establishment of IEK tourism professions in Istiaia.

However, the fires have not caused cancellations in other parts of the country, while the interest for holidays in our country with last minute bookings remains great, as the German press association DRV, which represents the German press, confirmed a few days ago. travel agents and travel agencies. It is reminded that the German market is still the largest for tourism in our country. Therefore, the main unbalanced factor for its course for the next two months is still the evolution of the pandemic, with the hoteliers not hiding their concern, especially after the additional restrictive measures that were imposed in Heraklion, Chania, Zakynthos and Mykonos. The latter may not have led to cancellations, but what the industry fears is the prevention of new last-minute tourists, on whom the industry has relied again this year. Indicative in this regard are the statements of the president of the Hoteliers Association of Chania Manolis Giannoulis, according to whom, despite the restrictions, the season in terms of bookings is moving better than the initial expectations, with August maintaining its momentum.

High on the booking lists

At the moment, however, it is additionally encouraging that Greece still ranks very high in the bookings of foreign tour operators, given that the biggest player in Europe, TUI, announced last week that Crete and Rhodes are in second and third place respectively in its top destinations for this year, behind Mallorca. Especially for the British market, which opened much later and in which the domestic tourist operators have pinned their hopes for the months of August and September, Rhodes emerges as the second largest destination, which is particularly encouraging.

Crete as it seems this season aspires to cover most of the distance from the record tourist sizes achieved in 2019, hoping for a full return to normalcy in 2022 and 2023. By the end of the month the fullness in the tourist accommodation of popular destinations is moving from 80% up to 95%, with Chania leading the way.

Crowds are also at high levels in the tourist accommodation of popular destinations . Strong demand is recorded for Mykonos, where the occupancy is over 95%. According to the Travel Recovery Trend Report conducted by Expedia Group , the Island of the Winds It ranks seventh among the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, behind London, Dubai, Paris, Palma de Mallorca, New York and Copenhagen.

South Aegean

Overall, the South Aegean seems to be winning the bet of recovering and reducing – as much as possible – the huge losses in revenue and arrivals of 2020. According to data published by the South Aegean Tourism Initiative and based on airport arrivals within of the Region, until July 31, Santorini, Mykonos and Karpathos had received more visitors from those throughout the tourist season of 2020. Here are two more popular destinations: Rhodes was in the same period in 84% of the international air traffic of the previous year while Kos in 75%. 

  •  More than 160,000 visitors from abroad have landed at Mykonos airport this year. Last year, according to the Civil Aviation Authority, 132,753 international arrivals were recorded at Mykonos airport until October.
  • Santorini already counts 180,000 international arrivals. Last year, until October, the arrivals on the island were 139,894.
  • Rhodes has welcomed more than 490,000 visitors from abroad. In 2020 the arrivals on the Island of the Knights were 584,237.
  • Kos had more than 240,000 passengers by the end of July. Last year it received 321,266 passengers from abroad.
  • Spectacular is the recovery presented by the international passenger traffic of Karpathos, which before August had already doubled the international arrivals compared to last year, recording more than 16,000 arrivals from abroad.

In August, as indicated by the scheduling of airline seats publish the Institute of SETE, goes even better. In fact, every week the international arrivals at all the airports of the country escalate, with the next week showing the best so far. According to INSETE data, from Monday 16th to the 22nd of the month 212,860 international air arrivals are expected in Athens, 137,319 in Heraklion, 92,485 in Rhodes, 78,647 in Corfu, 66,118 in Thessaloniki, 49,566 in Kos, 39,099 in Chania, 33,462 in Zakynthos, 12,949 in Aktio, 12,391 in Kefalonia, 7,601 in Skiathos and so on.

Thus, there is an escalation of arrivals and tourist traffic in almost all tourist destinations , including the Ionian islands .

Satisfactory fullness also exists in Northern Greece, which due to road tourism from the Balkans was more favored this year compared to other areas, due to the conjuncture of the pandemic. Professionals of the Prefecture of Kavala stressed that this year the target for tourist receipts in 50% of the record year of 2019 is achievable. The traffic in Halkidiki is particularly good despite the lack of Russian tourists. The traffic in this area is expected to peak next week, as the wave of domestic tourism continues.

In any case, tour operators insist that, unless there are side effects on the pandemic front, or sudden lockdowns and quarantines in the next two months, then not only can it be achieved the target of 50% of revenues in 2019 , but also it may reach even 60%.

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