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Covid-19 Kept 40% of Greece’s Hotels Closed in 2020

Only 60 percent of all hotels in Greece managed to operate during this year’s tourism season and just for a short period of time, according to a report by the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) on the reopening of Greek hotels after the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown.

According to the report, presented during an online press conference on Monday, out of 9,971 Greek hotels (year-round and seasonal) that operated in 2019, only 67 percent (6,700) decided to obtain the necessary health protocols and gradually restart operations to welcome guests once the Covid-19 lockdown was lifted.

ITEP’s data showed that 2,328 year-round hotels (59 percent of the total amount in Greece) and 3,699 seasonal hotels (61 percent of the total total amount in Greece) reopened after the lockdown.

However, due to uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and travel restrictions, demand remained low for the majority of the season.

Average hotel occupancy in Greece for the months of July, August and September amounted to 23.1 percent, and the average room rate for the same period reached only 86 euros.

It is reminded that ITEP’s June 2020 survey on the effects of Covid-19 on the Greek hotel sector, had found that 84 percent of the country’s hotels had intended to open after the lockdown for the 2020 season. However, in the end, a number of hotels preferred to remain closed fearing the risk of reopening to uncertain demand and relatively low occupancies.

Over 700 year-round hotels to shut doors for rest of 2020

The report also revealed that 717 Greek year-round hotels that opened, intend to close again by the end of 2020.

“This clearly indicates the difficulty of the coming months for the hotel sector,” Hellenic Chamber of Hotels President Alexandros Vassilikos said.

Commenting on the decision of hoteliers not to open at all this year or to close although they had reopened after the lockdown, Vassilikos said that the risk to operate is high as the primary element that influences the decision of hoteliers is demand.

“It is absolutely clear that when borders to certain countries are closed, whether they are Balkan markets or the UK for example, a number of hoteliers will immediately choose not to operate or to close for the rest of the year, which makes sense if we consider that some hotels are directly dependent on specific countries,” hesaid.

Lack of conferences push turnover down

Moreover, Vassilikos said that at the end of the 2020 tourism season, Greek hotels are expected to see revenues below 3.5 billion euros – from 18.5 billion euros in 2019 – while turnover will be less than 2.8 billion euros (from 8.5 billion euros in 2019).

The hotel chamber’s president also added that turnover this year was also severely impacted by the lack of conferences, as any planned events that were scheduled to be hosted in hotels were cancelled or held virtually due to the pandemic.

“There were no goals for the season this year, neither for turnover or arrivals…. The tourism season was out of our hands as the infectious disease specialists ran the show,” Vassilikos said.

“The only goal we had this year was to ensure health safety and I believe that Greek hoteliers rose to the occasion and left an important legacy for next season which we all hope will differ from the one we just passed,” he stressed, adding that it is the duty of the state to provide a series of additional measures that will ensure the viability of Greek hotels until next summer.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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