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Vigla Hotel, Amorgos

The Vigla Hotel on the Greek island of Amorgos has announced that it will reopen its doors and welcome guests on April 10.

Located in the village of Tholaria on the north part of the island, Vigla Hotel offers high quality services and authentic hospitality in its recently renovated rooms, as well as stunning views of the Aegiali bay.

“We know that now, more than ever, travelers are looking for carefree safe holidays. We are here to make it happen,” Vigla Hotel Managing Director Despina Giannakopoulou said.

The village of Tholaria and the bay of Aegiali on Amorgos.

The hotel has maintained all its safety-conscious measures to ensure maximum safety for its guests and employees against the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

For example, the hotel offers disinfectant dispensers for guests in all rooms and public areas as well as contactless procedures such as online check in and digitalized menus supported by QR code or special links.

Photo source: Vigla Hotel

Meanwhile, Vigla Hotel provides its guests with the opportunity to experience new activities via the Dream Blue, its specialized travel agency promoting the beauties of Amorgos.

“Aiming to make nature-based physical activity accessible to all, we propose hiking routes and road trips to the amazing nature of Amorgos with our expert guides. In addition, we offer a number of indoor activities such as cooking and dance lessons,” Giannakopoulou said. More information is available on the website of Dream Blue here.

To celebrate its opening, Vigla Hotel has launched a special campaign with an exclusive offer of 15 percent discount for long stays.

In addition, the hotel continues last year’s #be_a_traveller_again offer with a 10 percent discount.

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Photo Source: Visit Greece / Y. Skoulas

Travel receipts in Greece increased by 309.8 percent in the first month of the year generated by a 256.7 percent rise in inbound traveler flows, said the Bank of Greece releasing provisional data for January 2022.

In the same month, the balance of travel services recorded a surplus of 60.8 million euros up from a surplus of 1.7 million euros in January 2021. 

Travel receipts came to 140.1 million euros in January 2022 compared to 34.2 million euros in the same month a year ago. Receipts generated by travelers form EU countries rose by 270.6 percent to 80.1 million euros and by 373.5 percent from non-EU tourists to 59.4 million euros.

Looking at key markets, receipts from Germany rose by 227.7 percent to 21.4 million euros, from France by 486.9 percent to 5.4 million euros, for the UK by 524.8 percent to 16.4 million euros, and from the US by 3,768.9 percent to 7.0 million euros. Receipts from Russia also grew in January 2022 by 1,085.7 percent.

Central bank analysts attribute the stronger travel receipts to a 256.7 percent increase in inbound traveler flows to a total of 341.4 thousand: up by 352.3 percent through airports and by 182.9 percent through road border-crossing points, as well as to a 14.5 percent increase in average expenditure per trip. 

Photo source: European Commission

The number of inbound travelers from the EU grew by 219.6 percent and by 324.4 percent from outside the EU. The number of visiting Germans increased by 183.5 percent to 54.2 thousand in January, tourists from France increased by 424.8 percent to 15.8 thousand, the number of UK travelers rose by 483.9 percent to 33.4 thousand, and number of travelers from the US increased by 1,379.6 percent to 10.8 thousand. Incoming arrivals from Russia also rose in January by 579.3 percent to 2.2 thousand.

At the same time, net receipts from travel services offset 2.0 percent of the goods deficit and contributed 15.8 percent to total net receipts from services. Travel payments also increased by 143.8 percent to 79.3 million euros in January 2022 against 32.5 million euros a last year.

For the time being, despite the positive feedback and booking figures, Greek tourism stakeholders are reserved waiting to see the developments in the Russia-Ukraine war and on the energy and fuel market.

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Photo source: Eurostat

Greece is among the countries that recorded the largest increases in the number of nights spent in 2021 compared to 2020, according to data released by Eurostat this week.

The latest data reveals a rise in overnight stays of over 70 percent for Greece, Spain and Croatia, and notes that the overall figure has improved compared to 2020.

Overall, the number of overnight stays at EU accommodation facilities came to 1.8 billion up by 27 percent over 2020, which Eurostat notes is a sign that the tourism sector has started to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The figure is however still down by 37 percent compared with pre-pandemic 2019. Analysts add that the removal of travel restrictions and precautionary measures contributed to the improvement.  

Compared to 2019 figures, all EU countries recorded a decrease in non-resident guests. Latvia, Slovakia and Czechia took the biggest blow, marking drops of more than 75 percent, while Croatia and Luxembourg were the least affected with declines under 45 percent. 

According or the Eurostat report, non-EU residents stayed for more nights in 2021 compared with 2020 from 29 percent to 32 percent in 2021. Analysts attribute the rise to the share of guests from other EU countries which rose from 21 percent in 2020 to 24 percent in 2021.

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Photo source: HCAA

International arrivals to Greece increased sharply in the first two months of 2022, recording a 261.6 percent rise over 2021 to 2.6 million passengers against 718,330 a year earlier, said the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA) on Wednesday.

The two-month figure is still 37.8 percent below pre-pandemic 2019, when Greece welcomed 4.17 million passengers in the same period.

According to HCAA data, the number of flights to Greek airports in January and February rose by 75.5 percent over 2021 to 35,095 in total (22,063 domestic and 13,032 international). 

In 2021, Greek airports handled a total of 19,998 flights in the period under review, down by 16.7 percent over pre-Covid levels and 42,149 flights.

February: A winning month

In the meantime, February appeared to be a winning month for Greek airports with data showing a strong 305.7 percent increase in passenger arrivals to 1,347,795 compared to 332,200 passengers in the same month a year ago.

Greek airports recorded a total of 16,877 flights in February, 10,749 of which were domestic and 6,128 international, marking an 81.7 percent increase over February 2021 and 9,290 flights.

International arrivals up by 537.2%

Photo source: Shutterstock

Photo source: Shutterstock

International arrivals in February increased by 537.2 percent or by 321,225 passengers compared to the same month a year ago and 50,410 arrivals.

Comparing February 2022 flight data with the same month in pre-Covid 2019, the number of flights were down by 15.3 percent. 

In total, passenger traffic (arrivals and departures) in February was down by  34 percent over the same month in 2019, when there were 2,042,595 arrivals.

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Knossos, Crete. Photo surce: @Visit Greece

Greece is a favorite holiday destination this summer for the customers of global leisure travel giant TUI Group, who selected Crete as the most popular destination overall, the company said this week announcing the release of its “Holiday Atlas 2022”.

Greece and Spain are the most popular holiday destinations for summer holidays in 2022 followed by Turkey, which is making a comeback, Croatia and Cyprus.

In the meantime, the Greek islands of Crete, Rhodes, Kos and Samos are among the top choices for European travelers seeking to get away this summer.

Crete was found to be the most popular destination overall, followed by Mallorca, the Canary Islands, Rhodes and Antalya. 

TUIfly Flug Palma de Malorca nach Hannover mit einer Boeing 737., den 25.9.2018

Photo source: TUI Group

In view of the strong demand for Greek destinations, particularly bookings for the Easter holidays, TUI is launching flights for the summer season in Greece earlier than before and is already departing for Crete, Rhodes and Kos at the beginning of April. 

Travelers from Nordic countries and France are mostly keen on visiting Greece, which TUI said is “continuing last year’s strong trend”.

Holidaymakers from the UK are also planning to visit Greece with the majority headed to the Turkish Riviera. Egypt is also on their wish list.

The Germans are also booking destinations in the Mediterranean, including Mallorca, Antalya, Crete, Rhodes and Kos. 

Austrian travelers are also planning to visit Greece this year as well as Antalya, Majorca, and the Croatian Adriatic coast.

Greece is also the favorite destination for TUI’s Switzerland customers who have a soft spot for the island of Kos, followed by Majorca and Antalya. 

Finns, Danes, Norwegians and Swedes will be holidaying in Greece this year with particular interest in Crete, Rhodes and Samos. Among Swedish and Finnish TUI guests, Cyprus ranks even second in bookings after Greece.

Photo source: TUI Group

According to TUI’s Holiday Atlas 2022, like last year, Greece is the top destination for French travelers who are interested in visiting the mainland and Crete. Other favorites include Sicily, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.

TUI analysts note that there is “good demand” for all European countries in the last few weeks and there is a trend towards higher-value holidays with vacationers planning a higher budget for their summer holidays. 

According to company data, bookings for holidays to Turkey and Spain have doubled compared to last year.

“The trend towards short-term bookings continues and we expect summer 2022 to be close to pre-crisis levels,” TUI said.

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Photo source: Municipality of Athens

Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis pledged this week to support 111 small businesses operating in the city’s historic center with 2.3 million euros in funds.

Bakoyannis said the program, part of the “Athens Business Green Toolkit” launched last summer by the municipality, offers subsidies for energy upgrades of infrastructure and equipment which will help reduce energy and operating costs.

He added that it would also give small enterprises a “breath of air and secure environmental benefits” for the city.

“At a time when the energy crisis is becoming a key factor in the survival of small businesses, we are utilizing EU resources to support the market and offer economic relief to businesses in the historic center,” said Bakoyannis.

“With targeted green interventions, we are creating the conditions for a sustainable Athens and at the same time making a dynamic contribution to the strengthening of the city’s economy,” he added.

Photo source: Municipality of Athens

Under the program, small operations located in the city center and active in tourism, education, advertising, publishing, manufacturing, and F&B are eligible for as much as 80 percent of total investment budget (from 5,000 euros to 30,000 euros) to go toward for energy upgrades. Eligible interventions include thermal insulation, window and door replacement, shading, lighting and building infrastructure.

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Mykonos island, Greece. Photo source: Algean Properties – Ride the Wave Yields Report 2022

Eight Greek destinations, including the popular tourist islands of Mykonos, Paros and Santorini, are among 30 in the Mediterranean ensuring the highest returns and keeping their investment dynamic strong, according to a report released this week by Algean Property.

According to Algean analysts, despite Covid-19, the holiday home market in the Mediterranean has evolved into the most dynamic and active sector of the real estate industry in the area. 

In its latest “Ride the Wave Yields Report” for 2022 recording the latest trends and prospects in the luxury holiday home market, Algean Property analysts found that Mykonos, Paros, Santorini, Skiathos, Porto Heli, Halkidiki, Kefalonia and Chania (Crete) are in the lead in terms of annual yields.

Photo source: Region of South Aegean

Paros island, Greece. Photo source: Region of South Aegean

The report findings are based on research conducted across 30 popular destinations in the Mediterranean. Overall, across the 30 locations under review, sale prices have increased and yields are lower compared to their 2019 levels.

A growing demand especially in luxury destinations and the luxury real estate segment has led to higher prices and lower yields. Demand across Mediterranean holiday destinations soared during the pandemic, with Greece, Spain and France leading the race.

According to Algean analysts, given the low interest rates, purchasing a luxury holiday home has proven to be a good investment opportunity, with estimates showing that 45 percent of customers are already buying their vacation property as a potential investment. At the same time, many Mediterranean holiday home markets and destinations are becoming “primary home markets”.

Of the 30 destinations under review, nearly half are in Greece. Data on Greek real estate indicates that from 2018-2021, residential property prices have grown from 10 percent to 30 percent, depending on location.

The Algeon 2022 analysis shows that Mykonos, Paros and Santorini are still the top Mediterranean destinations, further establishing their investment dynamics, even in the post pandemic holiday home market. 

For the sixth time, Mykonos – thanks to its comparative advantages (mild weather, beautiful seashores) – and strong brand name is the top performing destination with an average gross yield of 7.4 percent. 

Santorini island, Greece

Paros (7.1 percent) was able to increase its yield compared to 2019 (6.5 percent). Sale prices and rents on Santorini experienced a slight increase compared to 2019 but overall performance remained the same (6.3 percent). Sale prices, rents and yields on Skiathos remained unchanged compared to 2019 at 6.0 percent, while Porto Heli increased yields to 5.3 percent compared to 2019 (5.1 percent). 

Halkidiki, Chania and Kefalonia share the same 4.8 percent yield. 

And lastly yields in Elounda were at 4.6 percent, on Zakynthos (4.6 percent), Rhodes (4.5 percent), Corfu (4.3 percent), along the Athens Riviera (4.2 percent), and in Messinia (3.6 percent). 

The above analysis is based on more than 3,000 comparable properties, selected by the Algean Property research team. Each property features a minimum of 3 bedrooms, a private pool, and high quality fittings. Assumptions are based on properties with an average area of 250 m2. The operational rental period is assumed at 12 weeks. The average gross rental yields are before expenses and taxes.

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TUI Group

Holiday travel giant TUI Group said this week that sanctions on the company’s largest single shareholder, Russian billionaire Alexey Mordashov, as a result of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, will have no lasting impact on business, the company, customers and employees.

“Our company is run by the executive board, like any German public limited company, and not by the shareholders or the supervisory board. We therefore assume that any restrictions or sanctions against Mr Mordashov will not have any lasting negative consequences for us as a company,” said TUI CEO Fritz Joussen in a memo to the staff.

Joussen acknowledged however that concerns over how the war will affect business were “legitimate and important”. 

CEO Fritz Joussen presented TUI Group's Q1 results during the annual general meeting in Hanover.

TUI CEO Fritz Joussen

“We are monitoring the developments intensively in order to assess possible consequences and to be able to put plans into place, if necessary,” he said, adding that TUI was no longer represented with companies in Russia and Ukraine. 

He stressed that in order to ensure the safety of customers, the company will make adjustments in some areas, such as flight routes and cruise destinations. 

“We are in contact with the employees of service providers in Ukraine who work for us and are supporting them as best we can to keep themselves and their families safe. TUI Cruises is also intensively looking after crew members from Ukraine who are employed on board our fleet of ships,” he said.

Russian shareholder resigns from TUI’s supervisory board

Russian billionaire Alexey A. Mordashov. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Sikarin Thanachaiary

Earlier this week, the EU imposed sanctions on Mordashov, who had been a shareholder in TUI AG for 15 years and holds around one third of the company. Two thirds of the shareholders are private and institutional investors and come from Germany, the EU, the UK and the US.

In response, Mordashov resigned from TUI’s supervisory board with immediate effect and formally declared the resignation of his mandate to the company. 

The EU clarified that sanctions concern Mordashov as a shareholder, not TUI AG and thus have no impact on the company.

It should be noted, that TUI is one of Greece’s main partners having pledged to double the number of its customers to Greece in 2022 over 2021. During a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Joussen said the company was planning on bringing some 3 million customers to Greece this year.

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Total passenger numbers to and from Europe are expected to reach 86 percent of pre-Covid 2019 levels in 2022, before making a full recovery in 2024 to 105 percent of pre-pandemic levels, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) this week.

Overall, IATA expects traveler numbers to reach 4.0 billion in 2024, to 103 percent exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Over the next few years, the intra-Europe market is set to benefit as travelers opt for short-haul trips thanks to growing confidence and as EU member states harmonize their rules and allow restriction-free movement within the EU. 

Russia-Ukraine crisis

IATA’s latest report has not taken the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict into account noting that “in general, air transport is resilient against shocks and this conflict is unlikely to impact the long-term growth of air transport”.

The report’s analysts note however that it is too early to estimate what the short-term effects will be for aviation, adding that “it is clear there are downside risks, in particular in markets with exposure to the conflict”. 

Factors that should be taken into consideration include the geographic extent, severity, and time-period for sanctions and/or airspace closures.

These impacts would be felt most severely in Russia, Ukraine and neighboring areas, the IATA report said.  Pre-pandemic Russia was the 11th largest market for air transport services in terms of passenger numbers, including its large domestic market. Ukraine ranked 48. 

The impact of the Russia-Ukraine crisis on airline costs as a result of fluctuations in energy prices or rerouting to avoid Russian airspace could also have broader implications. Additionally, consumer confidence and economic activity are likely to be impacted even outside of Eastern Europe.  

“The trajectory for the recovery in passenger numbers from Covid-19 was not changed by the Omicron variant. People want to travel. And when travel restrictions are lifted, they return to the skies. There is still a long way to go to reach a normal state of affairs, but the forecast for the evolution in passenger numbers gives good reason to be optimistic,” said Willie Walsh, IATA director general.

Key takeaways according to IATA’s February update:

– in 2021, overall traveler numbers recouped 47 percent of 2019 levels. This is expected to improve to 83 percent in 2022, 94 percent in 2023, 103 percent in 2024, and 111 percent in 2025

– last  year, international traveler numbers recovered 27 percent of 2019 levels, expected to improve to 69 percent in 2022, 82 percent in 2023, 92 percent in 2024, and 101 percent in 2025

– in 2021, domestic traveler numbers were 61 percent of 2019 levels set on improving to 93 percent in 2022, 103 percent in 2023, 111 percent in 2024, and 118 percent in 2025.

IATA reiterated its call for the removal of all travel barriers (including quarantine and testing) for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, pre-departure antigen testing to enable quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travelers, and removal of all travel bans.

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Mykonos

Greece managed in 2021 to recover more than half of 2019 tourism revenues and double the number of arrivals by extending the tourism season past the traditional summer months and launching winter and city break campaigns despite the onset of the Omicron variant.

According to the Bank of Greece (BoG) report for 2021, the number of travelers choosing Greece last year increased by 99.4 percent to 14.7 million visitors over 7.4 million in 2020, generating 59 percent of pre-pandemic level revenues. Leading the way in spending were tourists from Germany, the UK, and France.

More specifically, from January to December last year, inbound traffic  through airports rose by 109.5 percent and through road border-crossing points by 69.5 percent. 

Tourism-related revenues in 2021 recovered more than half of pre-pandemic levels coming to 10.6 billion euros in total, which central bank analysts attributed to the increase in arrivals and to a 22.1 percent rise in traveler spending. 

At the same time, according to the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA), airports in Greece saw activity pick up in 2021 with 12-month passenger traffic up by 80.9 percent compared to the same period in 2020.

Photo Source: HCAA

In the 12-month period, the number of tourists from the EU increased by 107.0 percent over 2020 to 10.1 million while non-EU visitors rose by 84.4 percent to 4.58 million. 

The number of euro area travelers grew by 113.5 percent over 2021 with the number of non-euro area visitors up by 91.6 percent. 

A total of 4.6 million visitors to Greece last year were from outside the EU, up by 84.4 percent.

The BoG report does not include cruise passenger arrivals.

In terms of source markets: Germany took the lead with the number of incoming travelers up by 96.6 percent to 3 million, from France up by 150.5 percent to 1.2 million, from the UK up by 48.9 percent to 1.2 million, from the US by 271.6 percent to 396,000 and from Russia by 365.3 percent to 119.500.

For the last month of the year, the number of incoming travelers increased by 294.0 percent over 2020 to 380,500 in December 2021

A closer look for the same month reveals a 219.7 percent rise in the number of travelers from the EU and by 373.4 percent from outside the EU.

A total of 127,800 visited Greece from euro zone countries and 31,700 from outside the euro zone.  

Delphi

Delphi, Greece. Photo: GTP

Supporting Greek tourism in December 2021 were the Germans – up by 297.6 percent to 43,200 travelers and the French – up by 503.4 percent to 15,100.

Earlier this week commenting on 2021 tourism revenues, Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the outlook for 2022 was “very good”.

“For 2021, tourism revenues were forecast at 5-6 billion euros. Finally, according to the Bank of Greece, revenues came to 10.4 billion euros for 2021 and the outlook for 2022 is very good,” he said.

Speaking during the AXIA Virtual Roundtable on Tuesday, Kikilias said Greece was “the 5th tourist brand in the world. Our goal is to further improve ‘brand Greece’ with a significant addition: to establish the country as a sustainable tourist destination that offers a high quality tourism product, that respects nature and authenticity.”

“This is a huge industry. It is the locomotive of the Greek economy, contributing 25 percent to the country’s GDP,” he said.

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