Despite the widespread optimism that the opening of the British market to outgoing tourism as of July 19 will give the local industry the mighty push it needs to recover substantially this season, concerns about the Delta variants allow no room for celebration, according to senior tourism officials.
Speaking to Kathimerini, they said it is very difficult to tell at this stage how this tourism season will evolve in terms of arrivals and bookings, due to the unpredictable spread of the new mutations of the coronavirus. What they do observe is that the market has also undergone a mutation, in that so-called last-minute bookings that used to be made three to four weeks before arrival are now being made just three to four days in advance.
The flexibility incentives that the civil aviation authorities and airports have granted air carriers allow for the chartering of flights even at the very last moment, as well as their cancellation, and potential travelers are acting the same way too.
It is therefore very hard to establish whether British tourists actually intend to come to Greece. Last week certain companies were even talking about a quadrupling of bookings, but these only concerned comparisons with the very low levels of the previous weeks. Consequently the Brits are not going to appear on scheduled flights or be making hotel bookings before early next week, the same sources point out.
It ought to be noted, however, that Andreas Andreadis, the chief executive officer of leading hotel group Sani/Ikos, said in a social media post that following the British announcement about ending the requirement for vaccinated visitors to our country to quarantine, and despite the increase in coronavirus cases across the European Union, “my provisional estimate about the 2021 tourism revenues is that they will climb to 50% of those in 2019 – i.e. some 9 billion euros.”
Britain is second only to Germany among Greece’s tourism markets, with 1 million tourists last year spending about €750 million. In 2019, about 4 million Britons spent some €2.5 billion.