High Occupancy Expected in Greece's Winter Destinations During the Holiday Fortnight

Greece's winter destinations are set to record high occupancy rates above 90% during the holiday fortnight (Christmas, New Year's Day, and the Epiphany), as noted by industry stakeholders.
Greece's winter destinations are set to record high occupancy rates above 90% during the holiday fortnight (Christmas, New Year's Day, and the Epiphany), as noted by industry stakeholders.

Regions with theme parks, such as Drama and Trikala in Thessaly, are once again taking the lead, according to Angelos Kallias, the General Secretary of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers. He suggests that the available accommodation in these areas will not meet the already observed increased demand.

Currently, reservations for Greek destinations are between 30% to 40% in terms of hotel occupancy. However, as the holiday period approaches, the occupancy rate is expected to reach between 85% and 90% overall.

Angelos Kallias indicates that the peak of bookings will be from December 22 to January 7, with arrivals reaching their zenith. Yet, during the mid-holiday days (Tuesday to Thursday), bookings drop to 40%.

Traditional holiday destinations, besides those with theme parks, also include areas with ski resorts, such as Arachova and the wider Parnassos area, Drama, and Kalavryta. Lysandros Tsilidis, the President of the Federation of Travel Agencies in Greece, mentions that regions like Epirus, Zagorochoria, Tzoumerka, Xanthi, Kavala, Alexandroupoli, Arcadia, Trikala of Corinthia, and the Peloponnese will also see significant activity during the holidays.

The dynamic of regions with theme parks is reflected in Drama's booking footprint, where reservations are already at 85%, and as noted by Mr. Kallias, no room is expected to be left unbooked during the holiday season. Drama is also likely to experience inbound tourism from the Balkans, unlike most other Greek winter destinations, which do not attract a measurable tourist flow from abroad.

Pelion and Magnesia are re-entering the country's tourist map, with this year's holiday season being the first test of their winter tourism. The occupancy rate here is also expected to exceed 80% based on accommodations open during the winter season. Urban centers like Athens and Thessaloniki are always attractions during the holidays for Greeks living in the province and are expected to perform well in terms of occupancy.

Christina Tetradis, the Vice President of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, points to the need for other urban centers to follow the example of Athens and Thessaloniki to attract domestic tourism. She emphasizes the importance of developing a strategy to extend the tourist season and to redistribute tourist flows to benefit other areas of Greece.

Regarding international travel preferences, Mr. Tsilidis notes that some Greeks will choose to travel abroad despite a 20% decrease in available travel packages compared to last year, due to inflationary pressures and travel concerns arising from conflicts in Ukraine and Israel. Travel agencies specializing in religious tourism have been particularly affected. Nevertheless, travel packages to countries like Italy have sold exceptionally well, with Spain moving at record paces, and many Greeks planning to visit cities like London, Vienna, Budapest, and Paris, attracted by the Christmas markets.

Overall, the first test for domestic tourism leaves tourism entrepreneurs contemplating the viability of hotels in mountainous areas during the winter season, which cannot support hotel operations on their own. With only 35 days of increased business activity out of a 130-day season and a total accommodation occupancy of 25% during the winter, the sustainability of these hotels remains a significant challenge. Both Mr. Kallias and Ms. Tetradis note the inability of Greek winter destinations to attract foreign visitors. After January 17, the phones at the hotels stop ringing, prompting questions about the effectiveness of promoting Greece abroad and the potential benefits of attracting inbound tourist flows.

tags: Tourism