Overoptimism for this year΄s tourist season cools
CORFU. High prices, expensive airfares and lack of last-minute bookings have all left their mark.
The high expectations for another 'dream' tourist season in Corfu have cooled, even though it is doing better than other flagship islands such as Mykonos, Santorini and Crete, which show up to 40% fewer bookings.
The excessive optimism that was "born" both from winter reservations that indicated a very good momentum and from the messages received by travel agents at major foreign exhibitions seems to be inconsistent with the prevailing situation today. This is because of high prices and, in Europe, the high prices of airline tickets, as well as last-minute bookings, which have a significant impact but are not functioning this year, have left their mark. There are bookings, of course, but they are not coming in the expected numbers.
"Bookings so far are at a good level, but there is a slight slowdown" Dimitris Diavatis, Vice President of Corfu Association of Travel Agents told Enimerosi. "The number of arrivals at the airport is positive, but municipalities should also do what is necessary in terms of infrastructure, such as roads, cleanliness, and markings."
Visitors are arriving but are also travelling on elsewhere
Although there was an 8.7% increase in international passenger traffic at Corfu Airport in May, there weren't the same number of overnight stays. For a lot of passengers, Corfu Airport serves as an intermediate point to travel on to other destinations, including Albania, even Sivota, Preveza, and Parga.
Furthermore, several thousand people are heading for cruises, as the city's port operates twice a week as a home port, with passengers reaching approximately 2,000 on each departure.
On average, about 1,000 people travel to neighbouring Albania daily, either for their vacations or for day trips, with travel to the destination increasing, as noted by shipping agents.
In the hotel sector, the occupancy rates in June are not very high and remain at last year's levels, according to Babis Voulgaris, President of Corfu Hoteliers Association. He states that the month is expected to end with occupancy rates of 70%-90%. "There was excessive optimism for very good numbers due to bookings and messages from tourism exhibitions, but the bookings experienced a slump," he said. "There is a slowdown in numbers, but it was expected. We mainly see it in individual bookings that affect rentals and villas, not the hotel sector," He added that there is cautious optimism for this year's season.
He said that for July there are occupancy rates of 80% in large hotels, which is increasing day by day. However, in 5-star hotels with 100-150 beds that target individual clients (not through a travel agency), they do not exceed 60%.
The hopes for the month to fill up now rest on last-minute bookings, which, however, have been put on hold due to expensive airfares. For now, there are vacancies even during peak season in August, but this not a cause for concern for hoteliers as it is a month that always "fills up," as they point out.
Bookings for rental accommodations for June range from 70% to 80%, according to Pericles Katsaros, President of the Corfu Federation of Tourist Accommodation Entrepreneurs. However, he says, at the local level, we have two issues to deal with: the number of arrivals at the airport does not correspond to overnight stays but is still recorded as visitors on the island and additionally, there has been an increase in the number of villas and rental propert available.
"This year will not be the same." Mr. Katsaros told Enimerosi. "Last-minute bookings, which were an additional help, aren't happening anymore. The rate of bookings has chabged and there are also other destinations that are attracting interest, such as Turkey. The biggest enemy forf all rental accommodations is high prices." He also stated that areas in the north of the island, such as Agios Georgios, Agni, Kouloura and Kalami, are doing well, although not all accommodations are fully booked, while the central and southern parts of Corfu are performing moderately and not exceptionally well.
However, as accommodation owners point out, the people who are coming are of low financial means, and this is reflected in the catering sector, which seems to be affected, as well as in the car rental sector. "The demand is very low at the moment," Kostas Kavvadias, President of Corfu Car Rental Association told Enimerosi. "We hope this will change during the high season. The season is bad for our sector."
Speaking to Enimerosi, Deputy Mayor of Tourism, Panos Varouchas, pointed out that the tourism "pie" is now divided much more as we have more beds due to the increase in Airbnb, while all-inclusive packages provided by hotels and airlines are also in high demand.
"Airport arrivals are the same as last year." he said. "Last-minute bookings, which play a significant role, are not happening due to the weather, there are more accommodation facilities available, and people are 'shared out'. Moreover, there is a lot of travel to Albania."
«Οι αφίξεις στο αεροδρόμιο είναι ίδιες με πέρσι. Οι κρατήσεις τελευταίας στιγμής που είναι ένα μεγάλο κομμάτι δεν λειτουργούν, λόγω καιρού, υπάρχουν παραπάνω καταλύματα και ο κόσμος μοιράζεται, ενώ δουλεύει πολύ καλά και η κίνηση προς Αλβανία», σημείωσε ο ίδιος.