The first few rays of sunshine have started to reach Greek tourism through the dark clouds of the pandemic, as the telephones at hotels have started ringing again and the websites of the major German tour operators are seeing visitor numbers growing. However, the booking icon is rarely clicked, while phone calls are mostly restricted to requests for information from this summer’s potential travelers.
Some of the major hotel chains in Greece say their systems have enough active bookings – dating from the period before March 15 – for some of their units to operate with an occupancy rate of 50%: This is the very level considered to be the break-even point. Other major hotel groups have started seeing some bookings coming in, but only for October. They are all pinning their hopes on the season being extended up until early November in order to recover as much as possible from the losses in May and June.
Major hotel chains that mainly serve the local market are also getting many phone calls from Greek customers after announcing that they will be reopening in the coming weeks.
Kathimerini spoke with the biggest German tour operator, TUI, and it became clear that activity on its websites has started to pick up, with a strong interest in Greece, Spain and Turkey. A similar picture is seen at rival DER Touristik. Nevertheless, many sources point out that any new bookings for July and August may not suffice to cover the anticipated cancellation of older bookings, expected to amount to 25%.
Sources say the German government is considering easing its travel advice to citizens, so they would be advised not to travel to countries with more than 50 new coronavirus cases per week. Greece is marginally in this bracket, although the threshold has not yet been fixed by the German authorities. Given Britain’s closure, Germany is absolutely crucial for Greek tourism as last year it accounted for 3 billion euros or 17% of all travel takings in Greece through the 4 million German visitors in this country.