Covid-19 Pushing Greek Hoteliers to Despair, Aid Needed
The ongoing pandemic and the persistent Omicron variant is pushing Greek hoteliers to their limits, with hospitality professionals expecting 2022 to be one more challenging year.
“Greek hotels will need up to five years to recover since the start of the pandemic,” said Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers (POX) President Grigoris Tasios this week.
Tasios said Greek hoteliers will be faced with continuous pressure for the entire year ahead, citing a recent survey by the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) published by the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels (HCH) last month.
According to the ITEP study, 32.6 percent of Greek hotel owners expect turnover to reach 2019 levels in 2023, while 27.2 percent see this happening after 2024. Just 14.8 percent of the hoteliers surveyed said they expected turnover to rebound in 2022.
Tasios warned that with the persistence of Covid-19, the soaring energy costs, inflation and price hikes in basic goods, the future for Greece’s hotels is grim unless the government takes immediate measures to support the ailing sector.
Citing the ITEP findings, Tasios said turnover loss in 2021 came to roughly 35 percent over 2019 at 5.48 billion euros from 8.4 billion euros. He went on to add that one of the biggest problems was lack of liquidity. Hit hardest have been the country’s year-round hotel operations, which according to ITEP, recorded the largest losses in turnover, down by 57 percent over pre-pandemic 2019 to 966 million euros from 2.25 billion euros.
“Year-round hotel operations in the mountain and cities will definitely need new working capital after being hit hardest by the pandemic, the restrictions and the inactivity in the organization of conferences and events as well as of business trips,” he said.
Last month, hotelier associations operating in major winter tourism destinations urged authorities to take immediate action. Occupancy levels for the winter period are not expected to exceed 12 percent putting many businesses at risk of bankruptcy, Greek hotel owners say.
POX sent a letter to government officials in January requesting immediate support be granted to accommodation enterprises due to the impact of the restrictions announced to address Omicron. In view of Covid developments, hoteliers say they do not expect activity to pick up any time soon, with initial forecasts for improvement set for April.