By Vicky Kourlimbini
With each passing week, expectations rise for a tourist season reminiscent of pre-pandemic records. Demand is high, all major markets and visitor “tanks” are moving positively, the footprint of the Russian-Ukrainian war seems to be smaller than expected, and if all goes well, local businessmen based on the current picture of bookings are optimistic that this year will approach the levels of 2019, when we had over 18 billion receipts. Both air arrivals and cruises raise expectations for a strong summer.
The data presented in the recovery tracker of the Institute of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises are indicative, with data from the travel data measurement company OAG for May. During the week from 16 to 22 May, 531 thousand air seats have been scheduled, while in the last week of the month, another 608 thousand seats on incoming international flights, the largest number since the beginning of the season. In total, more than two million places have been planned for May, with the recovery of tourist traffic now being evident.
The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands are in the lead in terms of demand. They are followed by Cyprus, Switzerland, Belgium, the USA, Turkey, Israel, Austria, Sweden and Denmark.
Regarding the destinations with the highest traffic, the airports of Athens, Heraklion, Rhodes, Thessaloniki, Corfu, Kos stand out, followed by Chania, Zakynthos, Mykonos and Kefalonia.
This season is accelerating. The vast majority of seasonal accommodation will be open in the second half of the month and hotels are starting to fill up, although even the largest percentage are last minute bookings.
In hotels with continuous operation, the occupancy has exceeded 50%. In the popular destinations the reservations are multiplied for the months of June and July and it is estimated that they will be filled with foreign tourists. And road tourism is believed to be recovering.
The only lag is recorded by the Russian market, which in recent years, however, preferred Turkey due to cheaper holiday offers, with Greece’s shares being small. In 2019, Russian tourists accounted for 1.9% of total tourist arrivals in Greece, while the corresponding share for Ukraine was very small.
All the big foreign tour operators are already looking at booking packages with a great appetite for holidays, after two years of travel restrictions brought by the pandemic. TUI has doubled its airfare to Greece this year and is expected to handle more than three million visitors, Germany’s Der Touristik, which also represents the Nordic countries, has seen a significant increase, and Condor has flown to Athens after 25 years. while the French market is already asking our country for travel packages for October and November. There will be 9 flights a day from the USA, a number that corresponds to 63 flights a week, while it is possible that there will be direct flights to the major airports of America and Thessaloniki.
From now on, a great effort is being made to extend the tourist season until November, which, if achieved, will significantly increase the receipts from tourism.
Foot with reduced scissors
According to the data of the Institute of the Hellenic Tourism Business Association, in the first quarter 741 thousand international air arrivals were recorded compared to 1.2 million in the period January-March 2019, showing a decrease of 48.9% or 489 thousand arrivals. The comparison is made with the record year for Greek tourism, before the outbreak of the pandemic, when arrivals from abroad in total exceeded 30 million and revenues of 18 billion euros.
In particular, 178 thousand arrivals were recorded in January, showing a decrease of 52.6% or 198 thousand, in February 223 thousand arrivals, showing a decrease of 37.8% or 136 thousand, while in March, 340 thousand were recorded, showing a decrease. by 31.4% or by 155 thousand arrivals.