Tourism: over 700,000 "lost" air tickets this year from citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus

It is still too early to assess the impact of the current crisis on Greek tourism in general, emphasizes Cristina Tetrady, Vice President of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels.

Analyzing the markets of Russia and Ukraine, the expert believes that “the situation will not have a significant impact on the overall result for Greek tourism,” adding that “while hostilities are going on,” no preliminary assessments can be made for Greek tourism, the publication reports.

Referring to booking data in Greece this year, Ms. Tetrady notes that there may be “no freeze on bookings from other markets of interest to us. However, there is no data on the number of bookings from previous weeks.”

The markets of Poland and Romania remain in doubt for 2022. According to Ms. Tetrady, “it remains unknown whether households (financially) will now be able to travel, following the influx of Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in their countries.”

Potential travelers take a stand in anticipation of the new tourist season

In the shadow of events in Ukraine, representatives of ECTAA, Europe’s largest organized tourism agency representing associations of tourist offices and tour operators in Europe, said at a recent meeting that no travel cancellations have yet been registered. However, the flow of bookings has stopped, travelers are taking a wait-and-see attitude. Serious concerns are also emerging regarding the rise in prices for tours due to the impact of factors such as rising fuel prices and inflation on traveler budgets.

Meanwhile, from 600,000 to 830,000 are estimated losses of air tickets planned for this year from potential travelers from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in connection with the war in Ukraine.

In a conversation with APE-MPE, Lissandros Tsilidis, President of the Federation of Travel Agents Fedhatta, as well as Alexandros Angelopoulos, Secretary General of the Heraklion Hotel Owners Association and Aldemar Resorts CEO, noted that this is especially important for the Greek tourism economy.

In the past, according to Mr. Angelopoulos, the number of visitors from Russia to Greece reached 1.3 million, while 130,000 people arrived in Greece from Ukraine last year, according to Mr. Tsilidis. In fact, 50% of the visitors from the two countries were absorbed by Crete, with all the ensuing consequences for the economy of the island. Mr. Tsilidis even recalls that Ukrainians come to Greece without a visa, and at the end of March this year, a green light was expected from Russia on charter flights to Greece.

This year, according to the president of Fedhatta, at least 230,000 air tourists from various cities of Russia were planned to arrive in Greece from Ukraine. At the same time, Alexandros Angelopoulos explains that the loss of tourists from Russia and Ukraine also includes citizens of Belarus, who will also not come to Greece this season. According to him, Greece’s losses will be between 600,000 and 700,000 arrivals, which “will have a particularly negative impact on Greek tourism.”

Impact on travel agencies and hotels

Meanwhile, the number of agencies that have ties with Russia and Ukraine (with all the ensuing consequences associated with their incapacity) is quite a lot. As Mr. Tsilidis explains, they operate exclusively in these markets and it is not easy to switch to others. Mr. Angelopoulos cites hotels that will suffer as an example. As noted, one of them, located in Skafidia in the prefecture of Ilia, owes 40% of its turnover to customers from Russia and Ukraine. Given the impossibility of having alternative airline seats in the Peloponnese, it is difficult to fill the gaps at the expense of other markets. However, in Crete the gaps are easier to fill due to the alternatives in the air networks.

Energy costs for hotels are unbearable

In any case, what seems to be particularly critical for hotels is the cost of energy, and Mr. Angelopoulos is asking for immediate action. “We offer travel packages at 2019 prices and even discounts, while we will have a surge in energy costs in 2022,” he says.

The situation is especially aggravated by the increase in food prices (meat and cereals), as well as raw materials (for example, timber) coming from Russia. The mixture, he emphasizes, is explosive, and the help of financial personnel in the new scenario must be immediate and clear. Here Mr. Angelopoulos recalls that energy is the second most expensive after labor. On the same occasion, the FDI vice president notes that the energy NSRF has not even been announced yet, at the expense of the recovery fund, which, if it happened, would be a lifeline for hotels.

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