Greece Sees Tourist Demand Up for Autumn, Winter Vacations
Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias is expecting the increased tourist flows this summer to Greece to continue into the winter and this way extend the 2022 tourism season.
“We are receiving very encouraging messages from tour operators as there is a demand for travel packages (to Greece) for the whole of autumn and even for December,” the minister told Greek newspaper Kefalaio on Saturday.
Kikilias underlined that extending the tourism season is a goal the ministry expects to achieve considering that Greece began welcoming visitors early this year.
“Extending the tourist season was one of the main goals we set from the beginning and, as far as the start of the season is concerned, we achieved it,” he said.
2022 season started early
“When I welcomed the first direct flight from the United States to Athens Airport on March 7, earlier than ever, few believed that Greece would have a successful tourist season. It was the first days of the war in Ukraine, the pandemic was ongoing and the energy crisis was causing unrest on a global level,” the minister said, highlighting the fact that UBS, a multinational investment bank and financial services company, upgraded its estimate for growth in Greece from 4 to 5.7 percent, with tourism expected to be the main driver of GDP.
Moreover, Kikilias said that the ministry is focusing on more actions in order for the 2022 season to continue and wrap up as late as possible.
“And because it is crucial to always be one step ahead, we have long since began contacts aiming to attract Northern European and German pensioners to spend the winter months in Greece where the energy needs are much lower compared to their home countries. This way, they will save the money they would pay for heating if they stayed at home and at the same time they will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauties of our country and get to know Greek hospitality,” the tourism minister said.
Kikilias added that Greece managed to have a good season this year following efforts that began last fall and included agreements with American carriers for 63 direct flights/week from the US to Athens; attracting high-spending travelers; promoting lesser-known destinations; investing in alternative tourism; and opening to new markets.
“This year’s result is due to our strategic planning which paid off… Had we not made these moves in time, the multiple crises of 2022 would have kept arrivals and revenues down,” he said, adding that this year’s tourism revenue has exceeded expectations and is giving a boost to the country’s development.
According to the latest data from the Bank of Greece, a total of 7.98 million travelers visited Greece in the first half of the year, resulting to a total 5.126 billion euros in tourism revenue, just 287 million euros short of the January-June 2019 period (5.413 billion).
Greece has a perfect opportunity to capture a growing and important share of tourist demand in the low season periods building on the initial successes of 2022.
However it is important to understand that it is just not the hotels that need to remain open in the late Autumn and Winter periods but also a selection of restaurants and other tourist providers to create and deliver a warm and hospitable welcome to visitors.
The GNTO now needs to start the process of encouraging tour operators and airlines to extend their seasons into Late October and November in 2023 initially to the larger islands (including Rhodes and Crete) where the weather can still deliver an enjoyable climate for sightseeing and relaxation.
Low Season Traveller which focussed on developing sustainable and responsible tourism flows looks forward to partnering with hotels and tourism authorities across Greece to support and deliver a growth in low Season visitors.
Many would fly to Crete with direct flights twice a week to a London and a Northern airport like Manchester. Even expats would use the flights and students would come home for Xmas holiday period. Many pensioners woukd come too but can’t cope with an Athenian flight changeover. Get 2 direct flights a week to Crete and tourism in winter would definitely take off. Tourist areas are shut but towns and villages are open.
Crete needs to be made fully aware of the season changes as around the 7th October businesses start to close up leaving tourists with not many places to go.