Speaking during a web press conference, Vassilikos described the dire situation the Greek hotel market is in right now due to the coronavirus and the dramatic impact the pandemic has left on the tourism industry. The chamber’s president see’s “a tough winter” ahead for which no predictions can be made.
“Health is the major issue and we are all hoping that science will soon have the definitive answer that will take us out of this great ordeal,” he said, adding that the situation for the industry is unprecedented and hotels are struggling to survive.
“The picture we have, now that October has arrived, is that unfortunately the worst case scenario has been confirmed… Survival, however, is only the first part of the challenge. The second is the fastest possible recovery. The big challenge after an immediate survival is taking a big step forward,” the chamber’s president said.
During the web press conference, Vassilikos announced that the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) will release data next week on the pandemic’s impact on hotel occupancy and turnover. Information will also be given on how many Greek hotels did in fact operate this season and how many of them closed earlier than planned.
“Based on this information, we will submit our proposals (to the government) with a view towards recovering,” he said.
‘Disease specialists were in charge of tourism this year’
Referring to the current situation, the chamber’s president stressed that the pandemic developed much worse than expected, standing in the way of international arrivals. Meanwhile, Greece’s road tourism arrivals were also affected as the Balkan markets opened and then closed again.
“This year there were – and there are – no goals, as 2020 is not a normal tourism season… We can not talk about arrivals and revenue,” he underlined.
Vassilikos added that the decisions taken to protect public health affected the tourism industry.
“This year, infectious disease specialists were in charge of tourism and not hoteliers… We must follow the health developments, otherwise we will not have a horizon for the future,” he said.
Vassilikos did highlight that Greece managed the pandemic very well internally, which is very important for the future of Greek tourism.
“Our country managed to make headlines for all the right reasons,” he said, noting that Greece’s hotels managed the crisis very well (by following the health protocols), considering that only two Covid-19 cases were recorded out of some 4,000 tests that were carried out in the country’s units.
2021: No predictions can be made
Regarding 2021, the chamber’s president said that no one is in a position to make predictions for next year’s tourism season.
“Without knowing health developments, no one can know what environment we will be in the day after,” he said, referring to “a very tough winter” during which hoteliers will not even have their basic income, such as advance payments from tour operators.
“We are entering a winter that lacks the usual ‘financial tools’ that are tour operators and advance payments. There are no agreements that will help hoteliers finance their projects. There are also 12-month-old hotels that have a winter ahead of them without any exhibitions and conferences. It will be a very difficult winter and it is very difficult to predict anything,” he said.