Big increase in tourism advance bookings for Greece 2024

acropolis athens greece tourist tourism

With double-digit growth rates of the order of 15%-20%, pre-bookings are currently running in Greek destinations from the country's major tourist markets with an eye on the summer season of 2024, with the "Greece" brand being marketed at this time higher than other competitive Mediterranean destinations.

The conflict in the Middle East is currently determining the trends in tourism for the next summer season, and even if, in a highly volatile environment, it is still too early to talk about 2024, it is still a fact that Greece now has the positive momentum for its tourism, taking the lion's share compared to neighbouring Turkey or Egypt, two markets that are clearly more affected and are now off the radar of European travellers, New Money reported.

The security that Greece radiates in the wider Mediterranean area is, at the given moment, also a great advantage for Greek tourism, with a significant impact on the planned arrivals and the first bookings for the summer of 2024.

In addition - and beyond the positive messages from the main, for our country, European markets - corresponding positive messages also arise from the increased air connectivity and the most distant markets, outside Europe, on the other side of the Atlantic, America, more directly, but also from China with increased frequencies and new routes.

Advance reservations and air connections

It indicates that because of the high demand, American United announced just a few days ago that it has decided to extend its direct connection with Athens airport until the end of November on New York/Newark – Athens. Demand for transatlantic travel remains at historically high levels, which is why seasonal connections are being expanded to popular destinations, the carrier said, including the Greek capital.

Correspondingly, important positive news also comes from another distant and decommissioned due to the COVID-19 market, such as China, which in this phase of the post-COVID-19 period is on the road to recovery, although still lagging, in fact, by much lower across Europe than 2019 visitor volumes.

Juneyao Air, one of the largest private airlines in China (and the first Star Alliance connecting partner), has now announced the imminent launch in April 2024 of a new route from its hub in Shanghai to Athens as part of the further expansion of its network in Europe.

"We choose Athens as Juneyao's third European destination (after Milan and Helsinki)," said the staff of Juneyao Air, the first among Chinese private airlines to undertake this intercontinental route.

For the 2024 season, British bookings are in the double digits. In Halkidiki, it is +18% compared to the corresponding period last year, in Kos +16%, in Skiathos +20%, in Crete +15% compared to the previous year and over 10% in Rhodes.

It should be noted that until today, for the strategically important Chinese market, Shanghai recorded the highest percentage of passenger traffic to Athens via intermediate stations. Hence, launching the direct connection for the first time is one of the most important developments for airports and Greek tourism.

It should be noted that at the moment, the Chinese market is one of the markets that the Hellenic Tourism Organization is looking forward to in the post-COVID-19 period, proceeding to strengthen the local office.

The general framework in terms of the strategy of the promotion of Greece abroad by the EOT, according to the general secretary Dimitris Fragakis, is based on two main axes, with an emphasis on the part of the experience: the first axis is the highlighting of the special identity and authenticity of Greece abroad. At the same time, the second has to do with sustainability.

Accordingly, from the number one European inbound tourism market for our country, the UK, the UK group of and Jet2holidays now sees strong and sustained demand for summer '24, with it proving very popular and the period towards the end of summer, according to chief executive.

Hence, the group is now extending the 2024 season by adding approximately 70,000 additional seats in the September-November period from eight British airports to popular Mediterranean destinations, including Greece (in Heraklion, Rhodes, Kos, Halkidiki, Corfu, Zakynthos and Kalamata) in the autumn months.

It should be noted that a few days ago in London, in the context of the significant tourist exhibition WTM, the Minister of Tourism Olga Kefalogiannis also had a meeting with the staff of Jet2, which has included more Greek tourist destinations than ever before in its 2024 programs.

It is characteristic that from the London exhibition, which is also the first primary barometer for Greek tourism for the next season, there was a significant increase in pre-bookings from the British, who seem to be gaining further ground about the German market in everything concerns the first place in incoming tourism markets for Greece.

Indicative of the first messages for the 2024 season, pre-bookings in destinations across Greece are fluctuating in double-digit percentages, such as in Halkidiki, which is at +18% compared to the corresponding period last year, while in Kos, the corresponding figure is at +16%, as the percentages are also very high in emerging destinations for the British market such as Skiathos with +20%.

In two of the country's top destinations, in Crete, pre-bookings show a 15% increase compared to the same period last year, like double digits, at a rate of more than 10%; the number is also estimated in Rhodes, where pre-bookings have started this year earlier than in other years, with the island having managed to make up for the maximum extent of the ground lost from the summer fires, even extending the season into autumn. The Ionian Sea, Corfu and Kefalonia are moving upwards, in double-digit percentages from Britain.

The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict

At the same time and with the level of competition in the wider Mediterranean area, the Israel-Hamas conflict is the one that dominates at the moment as the No. 1 risk factor, in addition to the known existing risks for tourism and Europeans that have to do with intentions them and how much they are ultimately willing to spend next season.

In this context, Greece is positioned positively as one of the safest destinations; the "champion", Spain, is also moving upward for 2024, but not Egypt and Turkey, which record a severe backlog of bookings precisely because of the situation in the Middle East. It should be noted that both markets have shown more than positive performances in 2023.

Characteristically, the Turkish market records record numbers with over 39 million foreign tourists in the nine months of January - September 2023, with an increase of approximately 23% compared to the corresponding period of 2022, while tourism revenues increased by 20%, reaching 42 billion dollars.

In its latest report, the well-known rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) precisely identifies the pressures on tourism in the Middle East and North Africa, in Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan due to their proximity to the conflict zone, but not so much in Turkey.

For our country, the most significant pressures have been received since October, since the outbreak of the conflict, the tourism of Athens and Thessaloniki and destinations of mainland Greece (such as Ioannina), which gather many Israeli visitors.

For the country's two major urban centres, there was an initial wave of hotel cancellations by Israeli visitors to the nation, a nationality that, in recent years, has fueled Greek tourism throughout the year and during the winter low season.

Indicatively last year in the winter and especially during the Christmas period, the Israelis were in first place in the foreign markets for Athens based on the data of the airport and the hoteliers with a few additional flights that had been added recently to the connection Greece - Tel Aviv even and for mid-winter.

Now, "since the war broke out, there have been many cancellations both immediately and for the following months, in the two months of November - December", comments Evgenios Vassilikos, general secretary of the Hotel Association of Athens Attica Argosaronikos.

However, given that the country's two most significant urban centres are firmly on the path to recovery, having hopefully surpassed their pre-pandemic numbers, Israelis are being replaced by other nationalities. At the same time, several last-minute bookings have begun to occur recently. Even for the same day, both in hotels and short-term rentals.

READ MORE: 1st place for Greece in hotel satisfaction – A record number of international arrivals.

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