The success of this season has created high expectations for a better year in the Greek tourist sector in 2022.
Even though it’s too early to make reliable predictions, this year’s tourist success is still at low levels compared to the record breaking numbers of 2019, something that makes the goal of improving more achievable.
One advantage is that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the duration of this season will be longer, as a return to normality is to be anticipated at popular tourist destinations, where the first mass arrivals are expected already from the beginning of April.
In addition, it is considered certain that arrivals by car are going to increase compared to this year’s, while the positive stance of Tour Operators and the foreseeable planning of more air arrivals from abroad will further support tourism.
At the same time, Athens is expected to achieve better numbers, as this year it didn’t do as well as peripheral tourist destinations. Additionally, the prospects in the conference and corporate trip sectors, as well as in cruising and yachting also appear better. The main players affecting the market, like every year, seem to be Germany and Britain. Maintaining an upwards trajectory with the French and American markets will be an important goal, while the recovery of the number of arrivals from Russia is also crucial.
In such conditions, recovery won’t have horizontal characteristics for Greek destinations. There will be many variables in place, and developments will depend on how well international markets do in each destination, and also the balance between Greek and foreign visitors will factor in regarding the prolonging of the season.
Also, the road to success for Greece as a destination overall will not be an easy one, as the competition will be stronger. Greece this year has, undoubtedly, succeeded in managing its image abroad, in comparison to competing destinations, like Turkey and Spain.
People, after the disastrous, in terms of tourism, 2020, had a greater desire to travel and more money to spend during their travels. With the progress of vaccination, the launch of the European Green Pass, and the gradual lift of measures, the international arrivals flow increased, especially after July, resembling more successful years of the past. One important factor in choosing a holiday destination outside their country of residence, was the safety they felt in each destination as far as Covid-19 is concerned. And Greece, as the results show, was a winner in this.
In 2022, as the developments show, the safety of a place in terms of Covid-19 will still hold as a deciding factor in choosing a holiday destination. But other factors will also play their part in travellers’ choice. For example, the duration of the energy crisis will also affect, to a certain extent, the available income of potential travellers in the next period. The possibility of a long-lasting crisis may not affect the travel behaviour of high-income tourists, but it will certainly impact the middle and lower middle class. A large part of tourists belonging to this category will look for cheaper options for their holidays. At the moment, Turkey is ahead in terms of offering tourist packages at low prices, due to the Lira devaluation. Spain, also, after two years of low tourist flows is expected to use all available tools to help the recovery of its tourism sector.
At the same time, if the crisis continues, an increase in operating costs of tourist businesses should be considered certain, something that will limit flexibility in pricing. At this point, the further expansion of the reduced VAT in transportation and tourism is crucial. According to the Preliminary Draft Budget, the reduced VAT is supposed to be in force until June 2022, and if nothing changes until then, it is expected to go back up, something that will also make Greece less competitive.
In any case, both Greece and the competing destinations will get a feel of the trends for next year, during the international tourist expo World Travel Market that will take place in London between 1 – 3 November. Another important international expo for international destinations, right before the beginning of the tourist season, will be ITB in Berlin, that will take place in March 9-13, 2022.
The new role of the Ministry of Tourism
The new Minister of Tourism, Vasilis Kikilias, has already started unfolding the strategy the ministry will be following in order to promote tourism. On a marketing level, they plan two campaigns. The first will aim at alternative destinations and city breaks, and the second will focus on the upcoming tourist season. They also seem to have realised the problems stemming from the wide range of issues co-handled with other ministries and regional and municipal government that affect tourism. In fact, a first effort was made to reposition the Ministry of Tourism at its natural space, among the Ministries of Development and Finance. The Ministry of Tourism, through the years, from its reestablishment up until now, has gradually lost its financial and developmental role. It has not followed the market that implemented huge investments for the creation of new tourist facilities and for the modernization of already existing one, even during the crisis in the past two years. And big groups, as well as smaller businesses, are planning hundreds of investments in the next few years, mainly for the creation of new hotels, which would be useful for the Ministry to know about, so that they can promote the role of the tourism sector in the country’s business world and in the creation of new job openings.