The strategy of extending the tourist season is paying off and already this year there are tangible results, as the general secretary of the Greek Tourism Organization Dimitris Fragakis pointed out to state news agency AMNA, noting that the Greek tourism organization-EOT always has as a central pillar of its initiatives the extension of the season. Focusing on this year’s tourist season, Mr. Fragakis said that this year we have the first tangible results as the season started very early, at the beginning of March, while even until the middle of November several destinations host visitors.

Athens is the center of attraction

At the same time, the demand for Athens, explains Mr. Fragakis, is at extremely high levels throughout the winter with increased flights from several companies. In fact, the same picture is given to EOT by the airlines and tour operators for 2024 during the contacts that the general secretary of the EOT had at the WTM exhibition in London.

“The extension is a collective effort that has been supported by everyone: market professionals, local communities, local government organizations. The initiative of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in 2022 to provide incentives abroad in order to extend the season, which EOT undertook to implement, worked extremely positively.

“The fruits of this initiative are what Greek tourism is enjoying today,” Mr. Fragakis says to APE-MBE.

Looking ahead to the year 2024, Mr. Fragakis emphasized that in the context of WTM he had a series of contacts with international market players with the spearhead being lengthened and everything shows that we will have equally good performance in this area as well, as he emphasized.

The last Resorts in Greece will close on November 15,

The bet of 12-month tourism for all Greek destinations may seem very difficult or even impossible, but many regions of the country welcome visitors throughout the year. First place in the list of hotels that stay open all year round are those that are located mainly in an urban environment but also in mountainous areas where tourism is the only activity of the residents. In the meantime, the sun and sea model, represented mainly by “Resorts”, renews the appointment with foreign visitors next year, as in mid-November the last hotels in the island destinations close.

In Rhodes, the summer is still not over

In October, as Vasia Papailia, advisor for the South Aegean region, emphasized to AMNA, that Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes and Santorini saw a 31% increase in air arrivals compared to 2019, a record year for Greek tourism. Even in this period, every day 500 foreign visitors arrive in Rhodes with 20 daily flights from abroad.

In the City of Heraklion, occupancy has hit the roof

The picture is similar in Kos, while in Crete and specifically in Heraklion, not a single “pin” falls on the hotels of the urban network, which remain open 12 months a year, as the deputy mayor of Tourism of the municipality of Heraklion, Giorgos Sisamakis, emphasizes to AMNA. With 5,000 accommodations within the urban fabric, the destination of Heraklion emerges as a protagonist of the 12-month tourism with gastronomy and culture as a vehicle, while the municipality is already running outreach programs with digital nomads, strengthening sports tourism and organizing conferences in the city.

In Athens, October closed with approximately 70% occupancy for hotels

Athens, with around 600 hotels, is the champion in visitor arrivals to urban centers beyond the strict summer season. In fact, in October the occupancy rate for hotels in Athens was 70%, driven mainly by the organization of conferences which in turn returned to normality, says Evgenios Vassilikos, general secretary of the Athens-Attica and Argosaronic Hotel Association, to APE-MPE.

For Mr. Vasilikos, the wager is that from the next period occupancy will be maintained in the hotels which will ensure their viability, given the fact that the tourist traffic will decrease significantly but also the prices will drop significantly, at the mercy of competition from the short-term hire.

Airline arrivals up 8.4% in September

In the meantime, the arrivals of foreign visitors to Greece also stepped up in September, as shown by the data published by INSETE, the research tool of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises, as in the first month of autumn there were 3.4 million air arrivals, recording an increase of 8.4 % compared to September 2022.

Yes, at nine months this year, in the period January-September 2023, 20.9 million international air arrivals were recorded, surpassing the levels of January-September 2022 by 11.6%. In absolute numbers, Greece had an additional 2.2 million air arrivals compared to the first nine months of 2022

Summing up tourism institute INSETE data, special mention must also be made of international road arrivals, where 9.0 million international road arrivals were recorded in the January-September 2023 period, compared to 6.6 million in the January-September 2022 period, showing an increase of +35 .7%. In absolute numbers, during the considered period, Greece attracted an additional 2.4 million road arrivals compared to 2022.

For another year, however, it is worth noting that the most productive months for Greek tourism were July and August. More specifically, in July there were 4.4 million arrivals, an increase of 4.6% compared to last year, while also for August, international air arrivals reached 4.2 million, recording an increase of 4.5%, always compared to last month.

With regard to travel receipts in the considered period of January-August 2023, which INSETE cites, they showed an increase of 15.3% compared to the corresponding period of 2022 and amounted to 14,663 million euros. In fact, as highlighted, this development is due to the increase in receipts from residents of EU-27 countries by +9.8%, which amounted to 8,155 million euros, as well as receipts from residents of non-EU-27 countries by 21.3%, which amounted to 6,104 million euros.

Concern among hoteliers due to the increase in their operating costs

In his statements to APE-MBE, the new general secretary of the Panhellenic Hoteliers’ Federation-POX, Angelos Kallias, referring to the development of this year’s tourism year, focused on the issues that threaten the viability of hotels, especially those operating in the mountainous areas of the country.

As he explained, nothing has changed with the factors that affect the operation of hotels, with an emphasis on energy costs. “Operating costs have increased, even a year better than last year which will end up being, the costs that the hotels have to deal with and especially of this mountainous mass are unbearable”, said Mr. Kallias.

Oil, as he said, has increased by 20% compared to last year, wage costs have also increased, as have raw materials, and finally operating costs have increased by 25%, noted Mr. Kallias. The general secretary of POX estimated that 60% to 70% of the hotels in the mountain mass will not be sustainable.

Mr. Kallias underlines the factors that concern the sector is the fact that no new care has been taken for the energy upgrade of the hotels. At the same time, he reminds that 1,2 and 3 star hotels, which are 70% of the country’s hotel portfolio, have been left out of programs to upgrade them, with all that this entails for their competitiveness and sustainability in the new environment, as he says.

In any case, the fund for the tourist companies will be made at the end of the year, the industry bodies note.