by Chariton Brousalian, Commercial Manager of Greek Travel Pages
This year’s summer season, and touristic year in general, has been a hectic year for Greece bringing many fluctuations and changes. It was not an ordinary year, and the evidence of that came late 2018 early 2019.
International Tourism Exhibitions such as ITB in Berlin and MIIT in Moscow had already made clear that 2019 was going to be a year full of challenges for both hoteliers and tourism professionals in general.
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One of the first disruptions of this year was the so called “Brexit”. An issue from the English market that affected all the countries that receive travellers from UK. As a result, bookings from UK were delayed for a long time and many just did not happen. Thus, before the collapse of Thomas Cook, our country was affected by the instability in UK. Tourist demand in Athens have been relatively sluggish for the first 5 months of the year with many companies – mainly on Greek islands – starting the summer season having large percentage of availability.
Another major issue that affect more and more not only Greece but all over the world is the “climate change” issue. If we see in more detail this issue with the travel industry and Greece, we must admit that modern companies should take in account also that factor. Ok, last year’s long and “strong” summer that “hit” Central Europe had minor influence for Greece. However, this summer’s heat “cut” an extra track from travellers who chose to stay in their own countries or just visit neighbouring destinations.
Tourism companies should definitely include in their strategy the climate factor cause the effects of a warm summer in France or Germany will directly urge travellers to seek holidays in the Mediterranean. Moreover we need to remember that also in Greece it is expected to experience more extreme weather phenomena – as we saw in Halkidiki this year – and which will have a direct impact on the tourist arrivals of an entire area.
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To continue with, there were double, and in some areas triple, national elections early summer in 2019. This fact itself had a major impact on domestic tourism and created several issues. For example, many of the May and June Conferences and Events were cancelled or postponed or travellers that wanted a short break before the major holiday they had to travel to their places of origin.
The strongest “blow” in Greek but also international travel market, happened due to the collapse of the Thomas Cook group. We may already see the first results, but it is certain that there are more to come in the near future. Thomas Cook collapse will affect much of Greece and not only All – Inclusive hotels.
We often forget that many islands, which are “secondary” destinations and do not have all – inclusive hotels, operated basically with the planes and the flights organized by this huge tour operator. Many smaller tour operators and travel agencies were buying seats at its planes as alone themselves could not afford to have branded flights. So this practise had as an immediate result the direct support of travel & tourism professionals. Of course we should not forget the companies that completed this whole ecosystem and now should organize themselves differently and try to broaden their clientele.
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Speaking of Tourism in general, actions, factors, data, environment have already changed and will continue to change drastically in the upcoming years. Factors as climate change will affect us directly, tourism models will change with the shrinking of traditional structures (eg Tour Operator, All Inclusive), the specialization of market professionals both new and old will continue to grow. As a result, a constant need for new markets and new models will arise.
Last but not least, our geopolitical position is at the same time a “wish” and a “curse” as our neighbours (Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, North Africa) determine to a large extent the way Greek travel & tourism industry develops. 2019 revealed all of Greece’s problems and shortcomings. Personally, I do believe that this will make companies and professionals deal with the industry in a more serious and organized way.
2020 will be an equally difficult year and only with better organization, strategic moves, extroversion and investment in innovation and staff, we can hope to see results – not only for a year but for all the years to come.