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Greek Coastal Destinations Winning Over Tourists in Covid-19 Times

Paleo Faliro, Attica/ Photo © NIKOS DANIILIDIS – Wikipedia

Hotel occupancy rates in Athens dropped by 30 percent but the South Aegean Region saw arrivals rise by 171 percent and flights by 154 percent in the first two weeks of August reflecting a clear preference for sea and sun.

According to Greek daily Naftemporiki, Attica’s coastal hotels are mostly keeping the market going thanks in large part to domestic tourists over the weekends, while dozens of units in the center of Athens are still closed due to Covid-19.

Indicatively, one of Athens’ iconic hotels, the Grande Bretagne reports 25 percent occupancy, which its managing director Tim Ananiadis tells Naftemporiki is “satisfactory” given the current conditions.

Ananiadis, also MD of King George Hotel, said most customers are Greek, Italian, and a few Americans.

Hotel Grande Bretagne and King George at Syntagma Square in central Athens.

South Aegean islands

Unlike Athens, the South Aegean Islands (Cyclades and Dodecanese) appeared to be winning over the trust of foreign travelers, welcoming 226,651 visitors on 1,592 international flights through five airports in the first two weeks of August compared to the same period in July with 626 flights and 83,567 foreign passengers, according to data released by the airports’ managing company, Fraport Greece.

Meanwhile, hoteliers on one of Greece’s main islands, Rhodes, said the immediate implementation of health protocols and the start of flights contributed to an increase in open hotels.

According to the Rhodes Hoteliers Association, 40 percent (from 25 percent) of the island’s hotels are now open. Based on association data to August 15, 70 percent of the island’s 5-star hotels were in operation, 40 percent of its 4-star units, and 35 percent of its 1- 2- and 3-star facilities.

The deer statues at the port of Rhodes. Photo Source: Discovergreece.com

“We have a positive development regarding open hotels. Smaller category hotels, as expected, in the beginning were much more cautious. However, they positively assessed the development of the season, but also the effectiveness of the operating protocols in July at open hotels and so the percentage of operating units in the 1-, 2- and 3-star categories from 10-20 percent initially, increased in mid-August to 35 percent,” said Rhodes Hotelier Association President Manolis Markopoulos.

Markopoulos said he expects positive activity in September and in the first days of October provided the heath crisis remains in check.

With regard to whether it has paid off to open to tourists in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, Government Spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Tuesday, that it was a positive step. “Instead of zero revenues, we will have about 5 billion euros in revenues,” he said speaking on public broadcaster ERT.

“It’s a significant figure, which of course is far behind the 18.2 billion euros in tourism revenue we had last year, but it’s a much better number compared to zero,” he said.

About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and SETimes.com, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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