Last-minute cancellations of bookings for holidays in Greece are on the rise after the latest surge in the pandemic, plunging Greek tourism back into a state of uncertainty.
According to data collected and processed by the Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation (INSETE), while September saw air seat bookings come to 80% of those in the same month in 2019, in October they amounted to 57.5% of those two years earlier.
The swing in the mood is also evident in the INSETE figures showing that the air ticket booking balance (bookings minus cancellations) turned from positive by 84.5% in September to strongly negative by 147.9% last month; this means that for every 100 new bookings in October there were also 147 cancellations. Those figures are expected to have deteriorated further this month, which will be confirmed next week when the statistics for November are published.
There has been a similar picture in Italy, Portugal and Spain, which had slower recovery rates than Greece this year anyway.
Consequently, while September had enjoyed a full reversal of the climate that pointed to a gradual restoration of all of the travel activity of 2019, October and very likely November too will once again show a significant decline compared to 2019.
Greek tourism businesses are optimistic about next year, albeit to varying degrees depending on the category (city tourism over the winter is in a clearly less advantageous position compared to summer destinations); however, they are generally entering a situation of low visibility.
SETE head Giannis Retsos told a tourism event this week that this year’s revenues will come to 10 billion euros, and that the budget target for €15 billion of revenues next year is “completely realistic.” It is also possible that target will be exceeded, regardless of how the pandemic evolves until March.
“We know,” Retsos said, “that the winter is going to be very difficult, we know that 2022 will be another pandemic year, but this may actually be an advantage for Greece. This is because Greece has managed to be considered a safe destination for holidays.”