Tourists are returning to Rhodes in numbers sending occupancy levels “back to normal”, said the South Aegean Region this week, adding that the Greek island had returned to “business as usual” following the devastating fires last month.
According to regional authorities and local hotel owners, the August 15 holiday in Greece helped boost numbers as did the inclusion of Rhodes in the government’s “Tourism for All” program which subsidizes holidays for lower income Greeks.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ announcement to offer a week of free holidays to travelers who were forced to leave the island during evacuations in July has also boosted business. The free holidays to Rhodes will be available through the “Rhodes Pass” platform (has not launched yet) to those whose holidays were cut short due to the fires.
In terms of arrivals to Rhodes, the region said figures remained positive in the March 1-August 20 period exceeding by 9 percent pre-pandemic 2019 levels and by 1 percent 2022 levels not including direct flights from abroad.
Additionally, a drop in online demand lasted for a period of six days (July 23-29), picking up pace from there on. From August 4, online demand outdid 2019 levels, the region said.
Meanwhile, according to airport manager Fraport Greece data, Rhodes Airport reported a 10 percent rise in domestic travel in July to 89,943 passengers over 81,680 in 2022. International traveler flows however were down by 5.3 percent to 1,006,536 from 1,062,373 in the year-ago period.
Overall traffic was down by 4.2 percent in July.
According to Rhodes tourism professionals, demand remains strong into September with hoteliers expecting high occupancy levels in the first three weeks.
Meanwhile, South Aegean Regional Governor George Hatzimarkos welcomed Carsten Rasmussen, Head of Unit, Cyprus & Greece, DG REGIO at European Commission to Rhodes this week. Hatzimarkos said Rasmussen’s visit was an “injection of hope…his words gave us strength and his interest gave us optimism”.
“Rhode’s rapid return to arrival figures that pave the way for a new record, surpass losses incurred by the forest fires and reflect a plan that focuses on speed and efficiency,” he said.