Hundreds of thousands of holiday bookings in Greece for July, August and the following months remain active in the systems of the major German tour operators as well as of airlines and hotels, as they have not been canceled despite the pandemic.
Sources among tour operators in Germany have told Kathimerini that only a small percentage of customers have asked for their bookings to be canceled and their money returned in the biggest market for Greek tourism in travel spending terms (at 2.937 billion euros in 2019).
These are bookings that had been made up to the first quarter of this year and, according to the tour operators and Greek hoteliers, can only be kept if the procedures for the opening of the borders are completed and flights between Greece and Germany are allowed.
This is one of the reasons why many flights between the two countries from July onward remain active in the online booking systems; another reason is the entire tourism chain – i.e. agents, airlines and hotels – is following a policy of rolling cancellations in order to minimize would-be holidaymakers’ demands to get their money back or be given vouchers for use at a later date.
That does not mean tour operators and hoteliers have agreed what will happen with the payments already made to Greek hotels. Kathimerini understands that the agents are demanding – often in no uncertain terms – the return of their deposits for the months the hotels have remained closed. Some are even demanding all their deposits, saying that their own cash flows have run dry – a problem also faced by Greek hoteliers.
At the same time the hotel owners who use those deposits as working capital for the opening of seasonal hotels (for renovations, maintenance, supplies, seasonal hirings etc) are asking that they be allowed to keep those deposits and, in return, the tour operators can deduct their share when the arrival of German visitors is permitted again and bookings restart.
For now, at least four major German tour operators – TUI, DER Touristik, Alltours and the FTI Group – assure Kathimerini they still have a multitude of active bookings. Many of them cite bookings growth of more than 10% up to January 2020 compared to a year earlier, which is partly explained by the exit of Thomas Cook from the market. Bookings were still being made until early March.