Strain "Omicron" sharply reduced the flow of tourists

The number of last-minute canceled holiday bookings in Greece is growing at an alarming rate, exacerbated by reports of the Omicron strain, which has put Greek tourism back into a state of uncertainty.

According to data collected and processed by the Institute of the Hellenic Tourism Confederation (INSETE), while 80% of aviation seats were booked in September in the same month of 2019, in October they accounted for 57.5% of the figures two years earlier.

The swings in sentiment are also evident in INSETE data showing that the flight bookings (bookings minus cancellations) balance went from positive 84.5% in September to sharply negative 147.9% last month. This means that for every 100 new bookings in October, there were also 147 cancellations. These numbers are expected to deteriorate further this month, which will be confirmed next week when the November statistics are released.

A similar picture was observed in Italy, Portugal and Spain, where the pace of recovery was already slower this year than in Greece.

Consequently, although the climate changed completely in September, indicating a gradual recovery in all tourism activity in 2019, October and, very likely, November will also again show a significant decrease compared to 2019.

Greek travel companies are looking at next year without much optimism, although to varying degrees depending on the category (urban tourism in winter is clearly in a less favorable position compared to summer destinations).

SETE chief Yannis Retsos said at a tourism event this week that revenues this year will be 10 billion euros and that the planned budget of 15 billion euros in revenues next year is “completely realistic.” It is also possible that the target will be exceeded regardless of how the pandemic develops through March.

“We know,” Retsos said, “that the winter will be very difficult. We know that 2022 will be another year of the pandemic. But in reality, this can be an advantage for Greece. This is because Greece has been presented as a safe holiday destination. “





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