Greece is expected to make efforts to stimulate domestic travel as one of the ways to boost the tourism sector this season, after the Covid-19 pandemic brought all air transport and incoming travel to a standstill.
However, taking into account figures on domestic tourism in Greece in 2018, extra efforts must be made to attract demand.
More specifically, according to a recent report by GBR Consulting, domestic tourism accounts for a very small percentage of Greece’s market share of overnight stays at major tourism destinations.
“In many countries the first step of recovery will take place with domestic tourism starting with business travel,” GBR said.
As noted in the report, the Greek domestic leisure market “was hit hard” during the Greek financial crisis.
Based on 2018 data, Crete held a share of 3 percent, the South Aegean Region (Dodecanese & Cyclades islands) a 5 percent share, the Ionian islands (6 percent) and Halkidiki (9 percent).
“In 2018 domestic overnight stays at hotels had an overall market share of 15 percent,” GBR said.
However, last month, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said the government would also focus recovery efforts on domestic tourism in an attempt to salvage the sector this season.
Moreover, despite accounting for a small percentage of Greece’s tourism activity, “domestic tourists can help support businesses during the difficult months of 2020,” Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) President Yiannis Retsos also said, adding that alternatives are being examined in an attempt to get Greeks to vacation at home this year.
Domestic incentive travel coupons an option
One idea brought to the table in order to boost domestic travel demand is the launch of a holiday discount program aimed at the Greeks.
Proposed to be implemented from 1 July to 31 December 2020, the program would offer a discount to the cost of a 5-day holiday at an accommodation facility and destination of choice. Eligible parties will receive a special vacation coupon to be used at any time in the given July-December 2020 period.
When asked whether they would be motivated to travel if offered a discount coupon, more than half of Greeks (66.45 percent) said they thought the idea of travel vouchers was positive and would influence their intention to take a holiday in Greece this summer.
In its report, GBR also included figures on road tourism in Greece in 2018, showing that international arrivals from neighboring countries accounted for 30 percent of all international arrivals in 2019 – or a total of 9.3 million.
“Most of these tourists travel to Greece by car,” GBR said, adding that “even though this group is often stated as important in the recovery of Greek tourism, the potential will be mostly limited to Northern Greece and the region of Halkidiki in particular”.
Northern Greece tourism stakeholders said recently that they were placing their hopes on incoming road travel to boost the sector. In this direction, they are recommending that health safety documentation be required for incoming visitors by road ensuring safe travel in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.