This article has been updated following the announcement that new Covid-19 measures would go into force before the New Year.
Winter destinations in Greece, including popular places like Arachova, Pelion and Ioannina are seeing occupancy levels soar to 85-90 percent for the three-day New Year holiday, according to data released by the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX).
POX President Grigoris Tasios said bookings concern domestic travelers as Covid-19 restrictions have put a brake on incoming travel, which currently accounts for less than 5 percent compared to 30 percent in pre-pandemic 2019.
Citing bookings, Tasios said holidaymakers are choosing popular winter destinations to welcome the new year such as Ioannina, Pelion, Arcadia, Arachova and Loutra Pozar in Central Macedonia, while many families are opting to visit cities hosting Christmas theme parks.
Occupancy levels were similar during the Christmas weekend but drop to 60 percent for Epiphany Day as travelers are waiting to book last minute, said Tasios in an interview to Praktoreio 104.9 FM.
He went on to add that overall hotel occupancy levels in 2021 recouped 50-60 percent of 2019 levels.
Meanwhile, Tasios said hoteliers were in talks with government officials for additional support measures particularly in view of skyrocketing energy rates.
Lastly, Tasios expressed confidence that 2022 will be a better year. “We’re entering 2022 with optimism and hopes that it will be better as of April,” he said.
UPDATE: New Covid measures cause cancellations but occupancy levels still high
Following the Greek government’s announcement that new measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 would start before the new year due to a sharp rise in cases, hotels saw cancellations to bookings that had been made for the three-day New Year holiday.
Speaking on OPEN TV on Thursday, Tasios said that despite some cancellations, occupancy levels remain high for the New Year holiday.
“We have cancellations nationwide and this is something expected… The new measures and Omicron made those who booked holidays, especially families, to think again about traveling because hospitality is linked with entertainment especially during the festive season,” Tasios said, highlighting that the issue for Greek hotels is what will happen after the festive season.
“The 10-day festive period is not enough to make ends meet… At Christmas we did have 85 to 90 percent occupancy levels and now for the three-day New Year holiday we are still at a good level despite the recent cancellations… But bookings for Epiphany Day (January 6) do not exceed 50 percent when in 2019 we had full occupancy,” he stressed.
Referring to the winter season as the most difficult period of the pandemic, Tasios informed that year-round hotels in cities like Athens and Thessaloniki are entering the New Year with an average occupancy of only 20 percent.
“Events have been are canceled for January and major industry exhibitions have been postponed… All this shows that recovery is still far… The main issue is what will happen after the holidays,” he concluded.