The very disappointing news on the state of tourism in Greece suggests that there is a dynamic trend towards cancellation of flights by major travel agencies at a time when industry and the local economy were expecting a significant “sigh” in the summer season.
Obviously, the long-awaited wave of tourist arrivals coincided with another “wave” – an increase in the incidence of coronavirus, which, according to experts, is associated with the Delta mutation. Tourism officials openly warn that the danger is now real: the country does not yet have a herd immunity wall that would safely “open” the country’s gates to a large number of tourists. It still needs to be built.
According to information from iefimerida.gr, over the past day, in the very “heart” of the summer season, large agencies have staged a “flurry” of cancellations, causing concern among all those involved in this area of business.
According to industry data, the biggest problem at this stage is with destinations in Greece that rely on major travel agencies like TUI and UK visitors.
Grigoris Tassios, President of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers, noted that “the problem is not the cancellation, but the booking.” “Things have stalled. No reservations are made. When we are surrounded by the Delta mutation and there is a problematic environment, when the number of cases from 300 to 400 in three days turns into 1800, this creates an atmosphere of insecurity in the market, ”the expert explains.
The president of the federation claims that “major tour operators (travel agencies) are canceling tours. The model they are following is that if you are not sure that the flight to your destination is 100% safe, then you need to cancel it, ”he adds.
The next ten days are decisive for the season
Quite a few hoteliers spend day and night in front of the computer, trying to learn about new driving instructions, any bans and new quarantine rules.
According to the results of the first “crash test” races, they came to quite unambiguous conclusions. It turns out that regions such as Rethymno, Chania, Rhodes and Kos, which rely heavily on international travel agencies, are in a very bad season at the moment. At the same time, according to the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers, islands such as Santorini and Mykonos, which do not “depend” on tour operators, “feel” much better.
“And of course there is also Northern Greece, where there is car tourism and individual visitors. Not everything is good there either, ”says Grigoris Tassios. When asked about booking rates, Mr. Tassios explains that due to the very different regional indicators, it is impossible to provide any specific data, stressing: “It is good to know that 2 out of 10 hotels this year did not open. We are in average condition … The next ten days are critical this season. “
On another “planet” Airbnb – up to 85% of bookings in Greece
In the other camp, the camp of short-term property owners, the situation seems much better. According to Andreas Chios, president of the Panhellenic Association of Property Managers (PASYDA), which specializes in short-term rentals such as Airbnb, “What is being said about the Delta mutation did not affect us. We know about the cancellation of trips (tickets) from major agencies such as TUI and not only, but we were not “affected” by this.
Mr. Chios says that “the islands, Athens, the Peloponnese and Northern Greece are doing very well, which is an indicator in itself. The region works well with the Balkans. The picture is quite positive. “
In terms of real estate occupancy, the season for its owners is like a pre-pandemic. “We have between 80% and 85% of the bookings we had in 2019, which is close to the normal level,” said the President of PASYDA.
Airbnb real estate owners believe that the large number of bookings they are registering is in some way due to the “wave” of hotel cancellations. According to them, some tourists may be afraid of overcrowding in hotels and prefer a more “autonomous” vacation in short-term rentals.