The fast-spreading Omicron variant of Covid-19 is leading Greek hotel owners to despair, said hotelier associations operating in major winter tourism destinations. They are urging authorities to take immediate measures.
More specifically, associations representing hoteliers and tourism professionals in Kalavryta, the Peloponnese, Evritania, Drama, Western Macedonia and Imathia – all major winter tourism destinations – expressed their discontent with reports claiming full occupancy over the winter and holiday season.
According to data the associations sent to the press, projected occupancy levels for the winter period are not expected to exceed 12 percent. In view of the data, they are again calling on the government to introduce support measures as many businesses are now facing the risk of bankruptcy.
According to the hoteliers, very few regions in Greece managed to achieve full bookings over the Christmas and New Year period and only for a limited number of days.
A closer look at performance for the two-week holiday period found occupancy levels at 55 percent in the Peloponnese, where in 2019 it was 100 percent; at 50 percent in Evrytania compared to 95 percent in 2019, at 35 percent in Drama against 85 percent in 2019; at 34 percent compared to 92 percent in Imathia, where two of the country’s ski resorts are located; at 35 percent in Western Macedonia over 85 percent in 2019; and at 55 percent in Corinthia compared to 95 percent pre-Covid.
Meanwhile, hoteliers in Kalavryta, a popular winter destination and home to another ski resort, are not expecting levels to exceed 25 percent in the coming months.
Hoteliers – mainly running year-round operations – are calling for:
– the immediate disbursement of aid pledged as part of an announced working capital subsidy
– the immediate disbursement of dues owned to hotels under the “Tourism for All” program with tax and insurance contribution deductions
– the reduction (under 50 percent) of minimum working time for employees included in the Syn-ergasia job retention scheme or allowing the option to place staff on furlough
– the extension of the Gefyra II program until June 30, 2022
– the suspension of tax and insurance contributions (including adjustment installments) until March 31, 2022
– subsidies to cover rising energy and heating oil costs.
At the same time, hoteliers in Thessaloniki are also on the brink with many hotel operations temporarily shutting down. Impacted by the new restrictions, low bookings, high energy costs, and ongoing operating costs, and in view of cancelled events and exhibitions, Thessaloniki hoteliers are in a tight spot.
Speaking to Voria.gr, Thessaloniki Hotels Association (THA) President Andreas Mandrinos said hoteliers were first forced to temporarily close their operations last year in mid-November, some for 15 days while others for a month.
“We’re holding our breath. Jobs are up in the air,” he said, adding that larger, 12-month operation hotels with more employees and higher operating costs are hard hit.
Earlier this month, the Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers (POX) sent a letter to government officials, including Finance Minister Christos Staikouras as well as labor, development and tourism ministers, requesting immediate support be granted to accommodation enterprises due to the impact of the restrictions announced to address the new variant on the sector. Citing Covid developments, hoteliers say they do not expect activity to pick up any time soon, with initial forecasts for improvement set for April.