Many hoteliers across Greece will be keeping their establishments closed over the Easter holiday, even at popular destinations, as reservations from the domestic tourism market are giving them little reason for optimism. Hotel owners who have decided to open this week have seen bookings plummet.
Business on the islands has also been dealt a mighty blow by the strike called by Panhellenic Seamen?s Union (PNO), which will keep ferries anchored until midnight on Wednesday, resulting in thousands of cancellations.
Kathimerini conducted a quick survey with the heads of the hoteliers? associations at destinations on mainland Greece and the islands in the runup to the weekend holiday, to get a better idea of how the situation is developing.
One of the most popular destinations for Greeks and international visitors, especially in spring, Corfu will have 8,000 fewer beds available to travelers this year compared to last, according to Takis Bramos.
?Around the city of Corfu, there are 10 four- and five-star hotels with a total capacity of 5,000 beds that will not be opening this year,? he said, adding that he estimates reservations will be down by 80 percent this Easter compared to 2011. He also said that as far as other establishments are concerned, just 1,000 beds of the 4,000 last year will be available this holiday season.
Takis Abatzis on the Cycladic island of Paros says he has seen a 45-50 percent reduction in reservations this Easter compared to last. He adds that there will be 30 percent fewer hotels opening their doors this week compared to 2011, attributing the closures to the ferrymen?s strike as well as a drop in the number of foreign tourists coming to Greece.
?Demand for the Easter period from Greece appears to be down by 50 percent in relation to last year,? said Andreas Metaxas about tourism traffic in Iraklio, Crete.
However, Metaxas added, he has noticed that when the Western Easter comes earlier than the Greek Orthodox Easter, as is the case this year when the two are a week apart, most hotels do not open for the domestic holiday alone, meaning that around 40 percent of the city?s hotels will remain closed this year as in other years. He also said that the drop in interest can also be attributed to the fact that travel is not among the priorities of cash-strapped Greeks.
Andreas Fiorentinos of the Myconos hoteliers association said that 50 percent of the popular island?s hotels will not be opening this Easter. He added that the hotels which will be operating are located inside the main town and that units in other parts of the island will be opening as of May, if not later.
According to the data available to the association so far, the average price for a double room in a two-star establishment is 50 euros, while capacity remains average at 20-50 percent. For a three-star hotel the average price per double room is 60 euros and capacity is around 20-30 percent, while five-star hotels charge an average of 120 euros and have seen 30 percent of their beds taken so far.
The eastern Aegean island of Kos has been luckier than most this year, according to Minas Hadjimichael, who heads its hoteliers association.
?A number of hotels have opened this spring in the town of Kos because of the flights that Ryanair began from March 25 and which have already brought some 2,000 foreign visitors to Kos,? Hadjimichael said.
Greeks, however, he said, are hesitant to plan a trip to the island, especially in light of the ferry strike.
In Pilio, on mainland Greece?s eastern coast, there are 30 seaside hotels that will not be operating this Easter, according to the Magnesia region?s head of hoteliers, Costas Leventis.
Leventis notes that the average price for a double room in a two-star hotel is 35 euros, while in three-star hotels it is around 60 euros.
Halkidiki has 50 hotels, according to Grigoris Tasios, 10 of which that had opened for Easter in 2011 will not be opening this year. Tasios further explained that 40 hotels will be opening their doors this week, 35 of which are year-around establishments, while in 2011 the region?s entire 50 units were operating at Easter.
?There are quite a few that will open for just four or five days this week and then close down again until May,? said Tasios.
Meanwhile, average bookings have not surpassed 40 percent of capacity, which Tasios attributes to the economic crisis as well as to a drop in demand from the Balkans, which he estimates to have reached around 60 percent compared to previous years.
Prices on the busy northern Greece peninsula start at the 50-euro mark for a double room with breakfast in a three-star hotel.
The seaside Peloponnesian town of Ermioni, which is popular with Greeks at Easter thanks to its proximity to Athens and the major towns of the Peloponnese, will not be affected by the ferry strike like other destinations, and just two of its hotels will be closed this Easter.
Stefanos Stefanou, the local hotel association?s head, told Kathimerini that 80-85 percent of hotel beds have already been booked for Easter, adding that prices for a double room start at 75 euros, including breakfast.