ECONOMY

Hotel occupancy to average 90 percent

Hotel occupancy rates are expected to rise up to 100 percent in destinations popular with foreign tourists in the next month-and-a-half, with sector representatives hoping that the upward momentum of arrivals will continue, beating the originally forecast record of 17 million tourists from abroad. However, destinations that usually received Greek tourists have seen a decrease in reservations.

Hotel representatives and local mayors from popular resorts spoke to Kathimerini about their estimates for the course of tourism up to end-August.

On the Ionian island of Corfu the occupancy rate in major hotels for the peak of the season has reached as high as 90 percent, though the rate at smaller hotels and rooms-to-let is lower, says Corfu Mayor Yiannis Trepeklis. He adds that in the second quarter of the year arrivals soared by 20 percent year-on-year, while he expects this increase to come to 10 percent in peak season.

In Crete, most hotels in the prefecture of Iraklio have occupancy rates of over 95 percent for the season’s peak, while there are very positive signs for September and October as well, according to the president of the Iraklio Hoteliers’ Association Nikos Halkiadakis. This is also the first year that Russia has emerged as the leading market for the destination, beating the Germans in arrivals. In Hania, occupancy rates up to end-August are expected to range between 80 and 100 percent, increasing from the current 70 to 80 percent, says Manolis Yiannoulis, the president of the local association of hoteliers. September bookings are also doing very well, he added. Traditional markets such as the Scandinavian countries are showing more interest in the destination, while there is also a rise in arrivals from Great Britain, Italy and Russia.

On Kos in the Dodecanese peak season is expected to bring occupancy rates to between 95 and 100 percent, and the signs are already favorable for September as well, says the local hoteliers’ chief Minas Hatzimichael. The increase is coming mostly from Eastern European markets, and particularly Russia, though there is also a positive trend for arrivals from the Netherlands, Germany and Austria.

In the northern Greek region of Halkidiki top-category hotels will peak at 80-85 percent of occupancy this summer, while cheaper accommodation will see rates of 70 percent in the next month-and-a-half, according to Halkidiki Hoteliers’ Association Grigoris Tasios. Rates for the first 10 days in September are also seen reaching the 80-percent mark. There area has seen an increase in arrivals from Russia, Ukraine and Germany, as well as from the neighboring Balkans from which many tourists travel by land.

The pattern of higher occupancy rates at top-category hotels is also being repeated on the island of Naxos, the biggest of the Cyclades, according to the general secretary of the local hoteliers’ union, Yiannis Margaritis. He said that the tourism season this year is clearly better than last and noted an increase in arrivals from France, Britain, the US, Scandinavia and Germany. Bookings from the Greek market are doing better in July thanks to lower prices compared to August.

On Lesvos in the eastern Aegean, the peak of the season will see hotels filled to 80-90 percent capacity, according to the head of the island’s hoteliers, Periklis Antoniou, albeit at lower prices than last year. The increase in occupancy is attributed mainly to the arrival of large numbers of Turkish tourists.

According to the president of the Hoteliers’ Association of Laganas on the Ionian island of Zakynthos, Christina Tetradi, a spike in arrivals from Eastern Europe and especially Russia has taken occupancy rates to 80 percent. She added that the inflow from the UK has remained steady.

Nearby Cephalonia is also doing better this year than last, said the head of the island’s hoteliers, Spyros Galitsatos. Occupancy rates currently range between 60 and 70 percent, with Britain remaining the Number One market. There is also a rise in arrivals from Italy, the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands. As for bookings from the Greek market, only minor losses are expected.

On Evia island, in central Greece, this summer season has been better only for hotels that mostly business with foreign travelers, said Evia Hoteliers’ Association head Miltos Helmis. He explained that the destination depends mostly on the domestic market and that demand for the next few weeks has not risen to a satisfactory level yet.

Hotels in Pieria in the Macedonia region of northern Greece, have average occupancy rates of 60 percent, according to Afroditi Leina, the head of local hoteliers, who noted that the area has seen many isolated bookings. Leina said that there has been an increase in land arrivals from Serbia, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as from Russia and Ukraine.

Finally, the mayor of Santorini, Anastasios-Nikolaos Zorzos spoke of one of the best-ever seasons. The Cycladic island achieved one of the highest increases in arrivals of foreign visitors by air among Greek destinations in June and the first half of the year, amounting to 27.5 percent and 30 percent more than last year.

Zorzos stressed that in June the rise in arrivals from Spain reached 107 percent from the same month in 2012, followed by 90 percent from France, 39 percent from Austria, 37 percent from Britain, 32 percent from Belgium and 22 percent from Italy. In contrast, arrivals from Germany recorded a notable 26 percent decline, while those from the Czech Republic fell by 7 percent. He went on to estimate that in peak season hotel occupancy rates will range between 80 and 90 percent.