Konstantinos Alexopoulos, CEO Domotel Hotels & Resorts and CEO of DHR Services, tells us that Greece’s tourism future must see upgrades in operations, products and services in order to bounce back stronger in the post-coronavirus era.
This time last year, the world was at a pause. A once-in-a-century pandemic swept the globe, taking with it the social, economic and political norms we’d long taken for granted. Looking back now, we can clearly see how impactful the events of 2020 were. Borders closed, large-scale projects ground to a halt, and Greece welcomed only a fraction of its usual numbers of travellers. All in all, 2020 saw one of the worst years for the travel and tourism industry on record.
Now, it’s 2021. Now, it’s time to look forward. The world is opening and summer is fast approaching. We’ll see another period of trials and challenges, but the outlook is promising. A v-shaped return to pre-pandemic levels of tourism has been witnessed in China, the first nation to both suffer and rebound from the pandemic. DHR Services’ white paper ‘Hospitality Returns’ predicted the same v-shaped recovery for Greece, with segmentation and sensitivity analyses suggesting the leisure sector will return to pre-2019 levels by 2022-25, while corporate and MICE travel are expected to take longer. Overall, with proactive measures, intergovernmental support and pertinent development projects we can begin the steady march back to normality.
Thankfully, the process of recovery will not start from scratch. 2019 was a benchmark year for Greek tourism. Numbers were high and large scale investment projects were initiated, with some now close to completion. 2020 changed this trajectory, and the positive impacts of these plans are yet to be realised. Now, these formerly dormant investment projects mark hidden growth potential. In a more hospitable global market, the fruits of these endeavours are set to bloom.
‘There’s light at the end of the tunnel… The coming years will see the emergence of new markets, a new generation of travellers with a renewed sense of possibility. Compared to its competitors, Greece is in a fortunate position.’
However, numerous disruptions are expected for the coming period. The total economic impact of the pandemic is yet to be seen, and there remains the very real threat of source market recessions. Domestically, previously made contracts have had to adapt to a new financial climate, with hotels experiencing notable cash-flow issues. Moreover, the geographic distribution of travellers may remain skewed, accented by affected transportation options and policies from feeder countries. Various sentiment analyses demonstrate that some consumers remain hesitant, particularly with regard to the safety, affordability and practicalities of travelling. The road to recovery will be long, and not always streamlined. For the Greek tourism industry, adaptability may prove to be a panacea.
That being said, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Global growth trends are promising, and extensive intergovernmental, institutional and private investor projects are long under way. The coming years will see the emergence of new markets, a new generation of travellers with a renewed sense of possibility. Compared to its competitors, Greece is in a fortunate position. With lower congestion levels, world-renowned cultural and natural wonders, and huge investment opportunities, the country is set to continue its legacy as one of the world’s favorite destinations. Thanks to a deal with Fraport, regional airports will witness huge developments, facilitating and encouraging the steady in-flow of newcomers. Most promisingly, Greece has been ranked as the fifth best global tourism brand. The stage is set. What’s needed now is detailed measures to secure the show.
‘Strategic maneuvers must be implemented to secure a framework and maximise development. From paused investment projects to untapped destinations, Greece has an abundance of growth potential ready to be unlocked.’
Currently, development is the key to Greece’s recovery. Tourism represents ⅕ of the country’s economy, and the state has launched a Development Programme to assist in its revitalisation. Alongside increased global mobility and domestic infrastructural development, governmental initiatives to increase incentivization will push the country towards further growth. Wide-sweeping policy and protocol changes are long underway, from negotiations with EU members regarding vaccine passports to a loosening of bureaucratic regulations to streamline new deals. Options for financing are vast, from EU Structural Funds to Private Equity Funding, and surveys have demonstrated huge interest from foreign investors into the Greek tourism industry. In order to realise all the aforementioned prospects, a clear and concise framework must be established both domestically and internationally. Only then will we reap the benefits of development, only then will we bounce back stronger.
Strategic maneuvers must be implemented to secure a framework and maximise development. From paused investment projects to untapped destinations, Greece has an abundance of growth potential ready to be unlocked. Structural and marketing changes are underway to challenge the seasonality of the tourism industry, expanding into different locations and niche markets that appeal the year round. We’re already witnessing dynamism through unlocking the values of existing stock and the incorporation of hotel units into global chains. The future must see upgrades in operations, products and services, and therefore a more fertile ground for development. These wide-scale projects are already underway, all in adherence with ESG policies and regulations.
Holistically, growth is possible, growth is accessible. With the right frameworks and strategies in a mobile global environment, Greece will return once again.