ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Sustainable practices and infrastructure and qualified human resources are keys to moving successfully into the future providing tourism services of the highest quality and maintaining a competitive edge, said Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) President Angela Gerekou and Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX) President Grigoris Tasios during the “Tourism: The Next Day” conference organized by the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (ACTE).

Gerekou and Tasios participated in a panel discussion on “Quality Tourism as a Response to Crisis” and both underlined the importance of restructuring the tourism industry in a sustainable manner.

GNTO President Angela Gerekou with Cyprus Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios

Gerekou said travelers were willing to pay for destinations and activities that meet sustainable standards, implement environmentally friendly policies and share common values with visitors, such as slow travel, rural tourism, alternative destinations, authentic local experiences and businesses that encourage diversity, support people with disabilities and respect its principle zero food waste.

She went on to add that a new trend in this direction was regenerative tourism, which focused on health and wellness, and added that travelers are now more than ever interested in safety, which means the need to adopt digital experiences, enriched through virtual and augmented reality. 

In this direction she said the GNTO would be teaming up with private stakeholders to implement a series of actions and initiatives through to 2030 that will meet these demands and at the same time promote Greece as a safe destination that is inclusive of all travelers.

Representing Greece’s hoteliers, Tasios expressed optimism despite the challenging times. “Over the last two years, we have grown resilient through our work, responsibility, risks, investments… But we must also look at the ‘bigger picture’,” he said, stressing the need to build on the valuable experience gained during Covid-19 and to set into motion the vision of sustainable tourism.

POX President Grigoris Tasios

In this direction, POX members have set key goals, which include transitioning to green practices, modernizing their infrastructure, integrating new technologies, and training their human resources.

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece. ΠΗΓΗ GTP

ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

“Support HoReCa Alliance” for the Sustainable Development of Hospitality and F&B in Greece

Seven leading hospitality and F&B services associations in Greece joined forces to establish the “#stirizo_HoReCa alliance” (Support HoReCa Alliance) aimed at promoting the best interests of the sectors and working together towards a sustainable future.

More specifically, the “Support HoReCa Alliance” for the Sustainable Development of Hospitality and F&B in Greece consists of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX), the Panhellenic Federation of Restaurant Enterprises (POESE), the Greek Federation of Spirits Producers (SEAOP), the Hellenic Association of Drinks Distributors (ENEAP), the Greek Bartenders Association, the Bar Restaurant Café Enterprises Association (BARECA), and the Athens Bar Show.

During the Covid-19 crisis, HoReCa sectors supported the Greek economy but are now faced with unprecedented challenges, including still recovering from the impact of repeated lockdowns and pandemic measures and now the impending energy crisis, the groups said in a joint statement.

Seeking to foster constructive dialogue on a national level, the alliance announced that it had drafted a Charter of Common Positions and Commitments for Sustainable Development of the Hospitality and F&B Sector in Greece.

The charter recommends: 

– reducing VAT on accommodation services to 6 percent – as was the case until 2015 – or alternatively harmonizing it with the EU average in order to strengthen competitiveness 

– reducing VAT on F&B services to 6 percent to mitigate the negative impact of inflation and the high costs caused by soaring energy prices

– adjusting  the Special Consumption Tax on alcoholic beverages to the EU average 

– providing additional support or extension of existing relief measures to catering and hotel businesses impacted by the pandemic 

– including HoReCa companies in announced funding programs 

– safeguarding legally-operating accommodation providers through the implementation of a legal framework that sets specific rules in relation to the operation of short-term rentals, identifying illegal hospitality services providers and enforcing foreseen penalties.

Data by the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE) shows that the sectors combined are among the strongest contributors to Greek economic growth. 

More specifically, according to ΙΟΒΕ 2021 data, collectively the sectors contribute 9.8 billion euros to the economy accounting for more than 5.5 percent of the country’s GDP. Additionally, 112,000 companies across the sectors create some 552,000 direct jobs, which correspond to 11.9 percent of employment in Greece.

The hospitality and F&B sectors generate 3.6 billion euros in salaries and social insurance contributions and 1.181 billion euros in taxes accounting for 2.5 percent of the state’s tax revenues.

pixabay

“There are difficult challenges ahead of us. As we continue the struggle for survival, we join forces and become participants in every effort that will strengthen the hospitality industry, upgrade our tourism product, and improve the competitiveness of Greek hotels,” said POX President Grigoris Tasios.

“Reducing taxation on tourist packages to the levels of other Mediterranean countries and reducing VAT on accommodation to 6 percent are the hospitality sector’s key demands,” he added.

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece. ΠΗΓΗ GTP

ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said this week that he would be calling on hoteliers to offer discounts to Greeks after spring in order to ensure that everyone has a chance to holiday.

Kikilias told SKAI television that he had already spoken with Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX) Grigoris Tasios, requesting that actions be taken by hoteliers so that all Greeks regardless of income can go on vacation.

“I told the president of the Panhellenic Hoteliers Federation, Grigoris Tasios, that towards the end of spring, business owners and tourism professionals should consider offering special prices to Greeks so that we can we multiply our tourist product,” he said.

At the same time, the minister said, he had requested from tour operators abroad to offer Greek hoteliers improved package deals “in order to be able to claim better wages for employees in tourism and better prices for tourists and especially for Greeks traveling domestically”.

Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias

Looking ahead, the minister said he wanted to avoid making forecasts, but ongoing efforts were being made to both open up to new markets and to mitigate the losses caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.

Among others, Kikilias said he discussed increasing tourism flows with Israeli, Romanian and Serbian authorities. He also added that the Greek tourism product was resilient and referred to the launch of direct flights from the US to Athens as well as to plans by leisure tour giant TUI to double the number of customers it brings to Greece this year which will contribute to full recovery.

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece. ΠΗΓΗ GTP

ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Photo source: Cardiff Airport

Greek hoteliers and tourism stakeholders are holding their breath waiting to see how Russia’s war on Ukraine will evolve and the inevitable repercussions they will have, including higher costs, on tourism, said Grigoris Tasios, president of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX).

In a recent interview to SKAI television, Tasios said airline tickets in Europe were expected to increase by at least 50 euros in the coming months, affecting Europeans’ decision to travel.

“The war in Europe is creating insecurity for anyone who wants to book a package holiday for the summer, and on the other hand, there is also the loss from the Russian and Ukrainian markets, which according to 2019 data, comes to about 600,000 and 150,000 arrivals, respectively,” he said.

Tasios said travelers and tourism businesses alike were bound to be affected by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but the challenge now was how the Greek economy would survive given EU directives in the coming period.

“The issue that concerns us all is how businesses will cope financially with the inflationary ‘tsunami’ ahead of us, an issue that is global and does not only concern Greece,” he said referring to the domino effect of changing prices and costs on travel businesses such as hotels and tour agencies which rely heavily on Russian and Ukrainian travelers. 

POX President Grigoris Tasios

Tasios confirmed that bookings from the Russian market had stopped completely and contracts with advances for the upcoming period had been suspended affecting several Greek interest companies in Northern Greece, on Crete and in the South Aegean region.

“We therefore have two categories of businesses affected by the war in Ukraine, those who are dependent on the two markets and those which are already impacted by rising costs… 60 percent of arrivals correspond to ‘closed contracts’ made with 2019 rates”.

On a positive note, Tasios welcomed the arrival of the first direct flight from the US to Athens, adding that Greece would be making efforts to cover losses through other main source markets. “Russia was seventh in 2019 based on arrivals, so we have another six European and US markets to work with,” he said.

Greece, Tasios said, was also expected to gain ground due to the good reputation it achieved as a result of its effective management of the Covid-19 pandemic and tourism.

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece. ΠΗΓΗ GTP

ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Photo credit: Region of Attica

Greek tourism professionals are seeing encouraging signs from Italy with more Italians either search or booking their holidays in Greece.

Speaking during a webinar organized by the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX) ahead of the Milano BIT international travel exhibition next month, POX President Grigoris Tasios said hoteliers were working hard to launch the tourism season in Greece earlier despite the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

According to data presented during the POX webinar, feedback from the Italian market is encouraging both in terms of online searches and reservations for the coming tourist season. Additionally, direct flights out of 14 Italian cities to Greek destinations are set to launch this month through to October 2022.

Findings presented during the event also indicate that Russia’s war activities have not affected people’s desire to travel in Italy. Instead, the removal of Covid-19 travel restrictions have led to increased demand.

Greek tourism stakeholders from the Ionian islands, Central Macedonia and Halkidiki, among others, will be participating in ΒΙΤ this year, where professionals will explore “green” hotels, sustainable tourism practices, alternative tourism options, experiential travel, gastronomy tourism and conduct Β2Β meetings.

POX President Grigoris Tasios

“POX is participating in the industry effort to strengthen incoming flows from top six source markets for Greece, in order to cover losses expected mainly from the Russian and also from the Ukrainian market,” said Tasios adding that “the sooner the season starts, the better for the economy”. 

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece. ΠΗΓΗ GTP

ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Refugees from Ukraine cross the border into Poland. Photo source: European Commission / Photographer: Bartosz Siedlik

Hoteliers in Greece said this week that they would be opening their hotels to host and provide employment to displaced Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion of the country.

Speaking on Open TV on Wednesday, Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX) President Grigoris Tasios said the country’s hotel owners had offered to provide humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people and that in collaboration with the Ukrainian Consulate in Thessaloniki and hotel associations in Thessaloniki, Pieria and Kavala, efforts were being made to assess  the needs in order to provide shelter and accommodation to displaced civilians from Ukraine, mainly women and children who have fled after Russian raids.

“We are ready to host refugees from Ukraine. In addition to shelter, we will offer them the chance to work in hotel enterprises if they wish,” said Tasios.

In this direction, Tasios added that POX was working with the Tourism Ministry to monitor the refugee flows towards Greece, and after May to provide jobs at hotel enterprises ahead of the summer season. 

“Of course, with all the legal conditions that will be determined by the EU in relation to residence permits etc,” said Tasios.

POX President Grigoris Tasios

Looking ahead to the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on Greek tourism, Tasios said it was too early to say, expressing his confidence however that any losses of Russian and Ukrainian tourists will most likely be compensated for by other European markets where demand for Greece is strong compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

Speaking to public broadcaster ERT earlier this week, Tasios confirmed that pre-bookings from Ukraine had stopped, while from Russia “there were few”. He referred to the challenges created as a result of the war which come to add to Covid-19 repercussions.

In 2019, said Tasios, 50,000 Ukrainians and 75,000 Russians had holidayed in Halkidiki, Northern Greece.

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece. ΠΗΓΗ GTP

ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ
The Greek Tourism Ministry's Secretary General for Tourism Policy and Development Olympia Anastasopoulou (second from left) with Greek Professional Yacht Owners Bareboat Association (SITESAP) President Paris Loutriotis and members of the board.

The Greek Tourism Ministry’s Secretary General for Tourism Policy and Development Olympia Anastasopoulou (second from left) with Greek Professional Yacht Owners Bareboat Association (SITESAP) President Paris Loutriotis and members of the board.

Hotel issues, marine tourism, cruise travel and marina infrastructure topped the agenda of meetings between newly-appointed Secretary General for Tourism Policy and Development Olympia Anastasopoulou and stakeholders.

Anastasopoulou was briefed on current issues by representatives from the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX), the Greek Professional Yacht Owners Bareboat Association (SITESAP) and the Hellenic Ports Association (ELIME).

POX President Grigoris Tasios updated Anastasopoulou on the impact of the Covid pandemic on the hotel sector and stressed the importance of a legal framework that would ensure the fair and smooth operation of short-term rentals.

Secretary General Olympia Anastasopoulou with Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President Grigoris Tasios.

Secretary General Olympia Anastasopoulou with Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President Grigoris Tasios.

Anastasopoulou also met with SITESAP President Paris Loutriotis who highlighted the importance of taking immediate actions to develop yachting tourism in Greece. Loutriotis reiterated the organization’s call for the creation of a new marina to be used primarily by professional boat owners in Attica. SITESAP and professional boat owner have repeatedly called on the tourism ministry to take action having also submitted a relevant study identifying the best locations for a professional marina.

Secretary General Olympia Anastasopoulou with ELIME Executive Director Dimitris Iatridis.

Secretary General Olympia Anastasopoulou with ELIME Executive Director Dimitris Iatridis.

Lastly, Anastasopoulou met with ELIME Executive Director Dimitris Iatridis to discuss cruise tourism to Greece, and relevant issues including the enhancement of the cruise travel experience, European and Greek health protocol updates, and port policy.

Anastasopoulou said Greece had managed to successfully address the challenges created by the Covid pandemic, adding that actions were being taken to increase tourist flows in 2022. She also pledged her support and commitment to resolving the issues tabled.

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece. ΠΗΓΗ GTP

ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

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.

Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President Grigoris Tasios.

Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President Grigoris Tasios.

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.

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece. ΠΗΓΗ GTP

ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President Grigoris Tasios.

Winter destinations in Greece, including popular places like Arachova, Pelion and Ioannina are seeing occupancy levels soar to 85-90 percent for the three-day New Year holiday, according to data released by the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX).

POX President Grigoris Tasios said bookings concern domestic travelers as Covid-19 restrictions have put a brake on incoming travel, which currently accounts for less than 5 percent compared to 30 percent in pre-pandemic 2019.

Citing bookings, Tasios said holidaymakers are choosing popular winter destinations to welcome the new year such as Ioannina, Pelion, Arcadia, Arachova and Loutra Pozar in Central Macedonia, while many families are opting to visit cities hosting Christmas theme parks.

Photo source: Travel Ioannina

Photo source: Travel Ioannina

Occupancy levels were similar during the Christmas weekend but drop to 60 percent for Epiphany Day as travelers are waiting to book last minute, said Tasios in an interview to Praktoreio 104.9 FM.

He went on to add that overall hotel occupancy levels in 2021 recouped 50-60 percent of 2019 levels.

Meanwhile, Tasios said hoteliers were in talks with government officials for additional support measures particularly in view of skyrocketing energy rates.

Lastly, Tasios expressed confidence that 2022 will be a better year. “We’re entering 2022 with optimism and hopes that it will be better as of April,” he said.

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece. ΠΗΓΗ GTP

ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Hotel occupancy levels at winter destinations in Greece are at 60 percent and prices are higher for the holidays, said Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX) President Grigoris Tasios citing increasing costs and a shorter tourism season. 

In interview to public radio ERT, Tasios said Greek hoteliers, particularly at winter destinations, are still trying to make ends meet impacted not only by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also by increasing energy costs, a short tourism season and unregulated short-term rentals.

“Efforts are being made by the government and we are waiting for a response next week with regard to heating subsidies and other forms of heating for which would help,” he said.

Tasios went on to add that the country’s 1,300 winter season hotels have reached 60 percent occupancy levels for Christmas and New Year’s, which he said is basically three, three-day weekends. 

He went on to add that Arcadia, Arahova, Ioannina, Magnesia, Pelion and Pozar Springs are reporting higher occupancy levels but cities such as Thessaloniki are seeing figures drop.

“We’re speaking about a seasonality of 15 days,” he said, noting that the short tourism period makes it challenging for hoteliers to cover expenses.

Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President Grigoris Tasios.

Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President Grigoris Tasios.

In efforts to extend the season at winter destinations, Tasios said POX was in talks with the ministries of education and tourism to establish a brief educational holiday period for students between Christmas and Easter, which would start from 2023. This would help boost hotel activity at remote winter desintations as well as in areas where there are theme parks and educational centers.

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece. ΠΗΓΗ GTP