TOURISM

Winter hotels seek more bookings

High occupancy rates are restricted mainly to the three festive weekends this season

winter-hotels-seek-more-bookings

Winter tourism resorts are reporting particularly satisfactory occupancy rates for the three weekends of this festive season, but not for the entire period.

The average booking rate for Christmas, New Year’s and Epiphany ranges around 70-80%. Yet given that this year Christmas and New Year’s are on a Saturday, there is little scope for extended stays, thereby bringing down the average occupancy rates of the entire holiday period to below 50%, against 80-85% in the same two weeks of 2019.

That is the view of hoteliers in a number of winter resort hotels, as expressed by Angelos Kallias, the president of the Drama Hoteliers Association. He says he expects an improvement as Christmas approaches, though not to a dramatic degree.

At the same time figures published online show that tourism resorts and hotels face stiff competition from short-term rentals in wintertime too, with bookings of houses and apartments rented out through platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com reportedly even higher than those of hotels for the holidays.

There is some notable differentiation depending on the region: While Arachova in Central Greece, and Kalavryta in the Peloponnese are outperforming the country’s average, Naoussa in Central Macedonia has far lower figures.

Even where the data are very encouraging, optimism doesn’t stretch beyond January 10, as there are practically no bookings after that date, says Kallias. Normally, he explains, winter destinations enjoy a 120-day season, but the pandemic has slashed that into a few weekends in the holidays this winter.

The vast majority of bookings concerns domestic tourism, as the presence of foreign visitors at winter destinations is minimal. A Tourism Ministry initiative will try to tackle that problem by a promotion campaign within and outside Greece. “Travelers could do a lot worse than coming to experience our gastronomy, our wines and spirits, our wonderful sweets and the traditional customs each area has this season,” Minister Vassilis Kikilias said a few days ago.