By Vicky Kurlibini
Yesterday’s data from the Bank of Greece show a return of tourist figures to pre-pandemic levels. The numbers are typical for March, but also overall for the first quarter. Arrivals of non-resident travelers increased by 320% and revenues by 404% in March this year (196.7 million euros) compared to the same month last year. In the quarter, arrivals increased by 295.8% and receipts by 342.2% (469.7 million euros) compared to last year, representing 55.4% and 62.9% of the respective levels of 2019, record year for Greek tourism.
Although the first quarter is not considered indicative, since the season in Greece essentially starts in May, the explosive rates of increase in revenue and arrivals from abroad indicate, as local businessmen point out, the great mood for travel and the fact that Greeks destinations are gaining in demand.
The good news does not stop here. According to ELSTAT, the turnover for all companies in the accommodation sector in the first quarter recorded a jump of 205%. For the companies of the Regional Units with a contribution to the total turnover of 2021 greater than 1.0%, the largest increase in turnover in the first quarter compared to the first quarter 2021 was observed in Rhodes (560.1%) and the smallest increase (66.7%) was recorded in Kos.
Reservations for the summer, and especially for the months of July and August, have caught fire. The information says that in popular destinations such as Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Zakynthos and Rhodes, the occupancy in the heart of summer is expected to exceed 90%, with accommodation reaching even the “fully booked” . The picture in relation to the backlog recorded at the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war is a thing of the past and the demand is returning, as the travel restrictions have been lifted (it is reminded that from June the use of a mask will not be mandatory indoors).
It is not without significance that the FTI, the second largest tour more beds in four of the most popular Greek destinations and more specifically in Crete, Kos, Corfu and Rhodes. There will also be an increase in the available beds in Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Skiathos.
However, there are destinations that still lag behind in bookings, such as the destinations of Northern Greece that had significant shares of Russian tourists and the Balkan market. In addition, for all tourism companies, the big obstacle they will face is the increase in operating costs from the energy launch.
Air arrivals are already going very well. According to the provisional statistics of the Civil Aviation Authority for the passenger traffic of the airports in April, in the arrivals of passengers of foreign flights there was an increase of 1,179.8% corresponding to 1,299,571 passengers, compared to April 2021 when the arrivals abroad was 101,541.
All major tourist pools are on the rise, which is expected to boost tourism revenue. The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands are in the lead in terms of demand.
Road tourism is a bet. Serbia is an important market in this regard and contacts are being made by the Ministry of Tourism. As it was pointed out in the contacts of the Minister of Tourism Vassilis Kikilias who was in Belgrade, by the end of this season, more than 900,000 Serbian visitors are expected in Greece, a number increased by about 40% compared to the corresponding tourist flows from Serbia last year.
In the crucial part of tourism revenues, tourism operators officially do not set a quantitative target for this year’s revenues. However, it is considered that there is a possibility to reach the numbers before the outbreak of the pandemic.
In 2019, travel receipts increased by 12.8% compared to 2018, reaching 18.2 billion euros. The increase in travel receipts was a result of the increase in the average expenditure per trip by 8.5%, as well as the increase in incoming travel traffic by 4.1%. Arrivals reached 31.3 million travelers, compared to 30.1 million travelers in 2018.
At the center of foreign investment
At the same time, Greece continues to attract large tourism investments. InterContinental has announced an agreement with Hines and Henderson Park, which have invested in the hotels Niko Seaside Resort and “Hermes” in Agios Nikolaos, and next year the InterContinental Resort Crete will be operational. InterContinental Resort Crete is the latest in a series of IHG deals in Europe over the last 12 months.
According to information also, Goldman Sachs acquires three of the six hotels of the GHotels group, interests of the Grigoriadis family in Halkidiki.