More than ever before, Greece?s tourism is a two-speed industry. On the one hand, the number of foreign tourists visiting the country is showing a remarkable upward trajectory, while the number of Greeks visiting domestic destinations is plummeting to new lows, as citizens feel the pinch of the economic crisis.
The result of this slump in domestic tourism is that hotels and rooms at destinations customarily frequented by Greeks have kept their prices at off-peak levels, while the number of websites featuring special deals and holidays packages have mushroomed and are enjoying unprecedented popularity with holiday bargain-hunters.
Among the deals that can be found, mostly at three-star hotels, are discounts that can reach up to 50 percent of the regular reservation price, as well as more inventive incentives such as pushing up the time when rooms need to be vacated from noon to 4 p.m. Some hotels will even throw in a bottle of wine with each reservation.
The prices and deals that are available on these websites fluctuate daily depending on demand, much like the stock market. The deals normally concern specific dates, both off and during peak season, and depend on the class of the accommodation. The best deals available at the moment are to be found the Ionian island of Zakynthos, where one pension is offering a studio apartment at a charge of 10 euros per night, on Samos in the northeastern Aegean, where similar accommodation goes for 11 euros, and small apartments going for 11 euros a night on Rhodes and 12.50 euros on Kos.
However, the availability of rooms included in special deals does tend to be limited, while potential patrons are advised to call in advance and confirm that what is being advertised is in fact what they will be getting.
A recent survey conducted by Kathimerini at 10 popular destinations for a four-night stay (July 25-29) in a double room in three-star accommodation revealed indicative prices and the kind of offers that are being made to boost domestic tourism.
On Rhodes, the price for this period starts at 220 euros, though hotels with few advanced reservations are offering discounts. In fact, one five-star hotel dropped the price of one of its rooms from 2,400 euros for the four-day period to 700 euros.
On Corfu, price reductions were recorded mainly at studio apartments and rooms to let, where prices for the four-day period begin at 170 euros in three-star accommodation, while in Hania on Crete the price starts at 220 euros.
Many hotels, furthermore, are also allowing for reservations to be made by phone without the use of a credit card.
In Halkidiki, northern Greece, prices that begin at 228 euros for the four-day period are made more attractive by the fact that many of the hotels making offers also have free Wi-Fi and swimming pools. On Kos, prices start at 210 euros, on Skiathos at 188, in Pilio at around 200 euros and on Santorini, a notoriously expensive destination, prices start at 269 euros for rooms and are even lower for studio apartments.
On Paros, prices for rooms begin at 200 euros, though you can find significantly cheaper accommodation at two-star hotels or studio apartments, while on Myconos prices remain comparatively high with a four-night stay at a three-star hotel starting at 440 euros.
A campaign to attract foreign visitors to Greece with special offers through travel agents and operators in combination with the social uprisings in North Africa have been key to boosting Greece?s tourism industry this year. Indicatively, arrivals at the country?s airports from overseas have increased by 9.5 percent over the past six months compared to the same period last year. However, scenes of violence broadcast worldwide from central Athens last month are believed to have put a significant dent in reservations, especially in the Greek capital. Recent strike action by taxi drivers, which has included blockades of airports and ports around Greece, has also contributed to dampening foreigners? interest in coming to Greece for their holidays.