Greece has evolved into a top European tourism destination and this year demand for holidays in this country will be very strong, possibly greater than that for Spain, according to Sebastian Ebel, the chief financial officer and a board member of TUI Group, Europe’s largest tour operator.
Ebel spoke to Kathimerini aboard the Mein Schiff 5, a 12-decker cruise liner that last Friday launched cruises from Iraklio, Crete, with more than 1,000 passengers. Looking out to the blue horizon from Deck 5 of the ship at the port of Iraklio, Ebel appeared particularly optimistic about the tourism season in Greece, saying it will treble its activity compared to 2020 in the summer months and, overall, recover 75% of the 2019 activity. Should those figures prove correct, they will be far above the Greek government’s target and even the most optimistic estimates.
“I believe that Greece and Spain will be the top two tourism destinations in Europe this year. I do not know who will be on top in absolute figures of travelers, but you realize that this will also depend on the hotel capacity on offer,” he told Kathimerini. “However, I am quite certain that Greece will benefit from the overall conditions, as well as the positive atmosphere created around them.”
Having been for years the director of TUI’s hotel and cruise tourism activities, Ebel is a European tourism expert. He argues that the tourism season may year stretch into October and possibly into early November too this year and adds that his group is going into this summer in Greece will all guns blazing. “We will open every hotel units we either own or manage in Greece. We will open everything. They will not all open at the same time, but they will all open eventually. The situation will be completely normal, unlike last year. Many people might think that we are opening with delay, but we have never started out any earlier than May,” he stressed.
As for the future, he perceives significant changes in the tourism product. “The way people buy their packages will change, and what they will get will be more personalized, with experiences such as horse riding, wine tasting etc,” Ebel notes.
“This activity is still at the preparation stage in Greece for us, but it will soon start developing broadly,” the TUI executive adds.