Halkidiki: "that’s it" Russian tourists. Flight to Greece costs 2000 euros

Greece entered the 2022 summer season with special characteristics caused by the events in Ukraine, the energy crisis and inflation, which increase the operating costs of the hotel business.

Chalkidiki is expected to develop this year, with hotel facilities in the area oscillating “between recovery and survival,” says Hotel Association (ΕΞΧ) president Grigoris Tassios, head of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers (ΠΟΞ) and first vice president of the Association of Greek Tourism enterprises

Based on tourist property bookings for June, July and August, this summer is expected to be at an average occupancy rate, with 70%-80% of the previous pre-pandemic season, the record year of 2019.

At the same time, tourists from the Balkans are estimated to reduce their presence in Halkidiki to 90 days, compared to 110 days, which was an average in previous years.

“In Halkidiki, as in all of northern Greece, there was little traffic in May, and five-star hotels worked mainly with the British and Germans. Since June, especially hotels with more than 50 beds, begin to record occupancy. For the Balkans, this year’s season is limited to 90 days instead of the usual 110. In other words, 20 days of the season are lost. And why? Yes, because of the lack of security (due to the war), given that the Balkan countries, such as Romania, are geographically very close to Ukraine. It is already clear that these days will be lost, since the first intense influx of arrivals usually falls on the second Saturday of June, that is, today, and we have the first clear signs of “sparsely populated”. 2022 will be a challenging year for the Halkidiki region. I believe we will see a recovery in government revenue due to a gradual increase in the number of arrivals compared to 2020 and 2021. For hoteliers, this means “simple survival” as owners have to deal with operating costs that have increased by 30% per room per night following a surge in electricity and gas costs. At the same time, some remnants of the pandemic measures are still in place, complicating the situation and further increasing costs. For example, such as the need for air conditioning in rooms with open windows”, says Grigoris Tassios.

According to various banking studies, it is now considered certain that when the season “closes” in October, the hotel industry will not be profitable. But what about the Russian tourists in Halkidiki, who for years have been among the top consumers of its tourist product (87,000 arrivals in 2018), even maintaining the area with high per capita costs during their stay there? “Due to the war and flight restrictions, very few Russians come to Greece via Istanbul, Athens and Thessaloniki. Russians currently pay up to 2,000 euros for a seat on a plane that will take them to Greece,” said Mr. Tassios.

Asked how negative events have affected the tourism industry and the years without Mouzenidis Travel (which is known to have attracted thousands of Russian tourists to Greece and is estimated to have left a gap of between 70 and 100 million euros in the market, 50 million of which relate to hotel units), he replies: “This year, as I said, we do not have Russian tourists. In 2021, some companies have tried to take the place of Mouzenidis. Foreign travel companies that already had a presence in Greece, but not in Halkidiki, such as TEZ Tour, which had previously been present mainly in Crete, Rhodes and Kos, TUI Russia and ODEON, which also launched a Kyiv-Thessaloniki charter flight last summer, but in vain. In 2021, we preserved the Russian market and agreed with new “players” on the influx of Russian tourists in 2022. But the flow was good only until January, and in February the war began there, and everything went to pieces. As a result of the events, all previously concluded contracts for 2022 were canceled, and the hotels were forced to return advances.”

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