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Hotels and rental accommodation not full in May

25 May 2023 / 10:37

CORFU. The weather conditions and expensive airfares affected occupancy rates. There has been a slight decrease in business in the town due to traffic congestion and lack of parking spaces.

The international flight arrivals at Corfu airport in the month of May weren't able to fill the island's hotels and rental accommodation, which are experiencing a slight dip in their occupancy rates.

Businesses are also warning that if immediate measures are not taken by the municipal authorities regarding traffic and parking spaces, businesses, which rely on tourists, will be adversely affected. Already, the revenues for the current month are slightly below the expected income, which did not materialise.

The weather conditions, characterised by unusual rainfall for this season, as well as the high prices of air tickets, have affected the occupancy rates, according to tourism professionals. Additionally, large hotels on the island have even witnessed cancellations.

"What we can see is that thre is difficulty in filling accommodation in May," Spyros Rokas, Vice President of the Corfu Hoteliers Association, told Enimerosi. "Some hotels have occupancy rates of 90%. Most are at 80% and some at 70%-75%. There have been some special offers, not across all hotels, but the majority must have made them, seeing that they are not fully booked." He added that tour operators have not raised any issues regarding prices. However, for hoteliers, special offers are a solution that they have traditionally adopted when a certain month experiences a downturn.

5%-10% drop in rental accommodation bookings

A decline in occupancy rates for May has also been also observed in rental accommodation, ranging from 5% to 10%, according to Pericles Katsaros, President of Corfu Federation of Tourist Accommodation Owners (OETKK). He said that this decrease was expected after the spike in April due to Easter, where there was a high level of activity, resulting in a reduction in May. "The tourist season always experiences a dip in May or June," he said. "Last-minute booking for air tickets does not work as it did before 2019, as there are significant increases and people find expensive tickets expensive."

Regarding accommodation prices, he clarified that they correspond to market conditions, highlighting that there is no possibility for special offers as there was before 2019, due to overall increases and the obligations associated with their operation.

According to Spiros Halikiopoulos, President of the Association of Corfu Travel Agents (AOCTA), there is a slower flow of bookings nationwide for the month of May, but Corfu is showing a better performance compared to other destinations. "High prices and the bad weather we had in May are to blame,"said Mr. Halikiopoulos. "We are concerned about the situation, but not worried, as the 80% booking coverage is good." He added, however, that in June Corfu Airport will do well due to an increase in flights.

According to Dimitris Roussos, President of the Corfu Civil Aviation Authority Employees Union, there are two periods when a large number of flight arrivals are expected. "In early June, there is a significant increase in flights, as well as at the end of the month. These are scheduled flights," he noted. Regarding the current month, flights from May 1st to May 24th are at similar levels to the corresponding period last year.

There are visitors from the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria in May and, according to Mr. Tokas, an increase in the number of visitors from America nd Israel has been observed.

Impact on business

The impact of visitors on the market in Corfu is not what had been expected, according to Kostas Mouzakitis, President of the Ionian Federation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

This is attributed to the lack of parking spaces, with the car park in the Upper Square being insufficient in relation to the demand, as well as the major issue of traffic. "So far, based on what we perceive, we see that we are slightly below last year," Mr. Mouzakitis said. "In May, we had high expectations, but these didn't materialise. The weather also affected the tourists' ability to move around the town, but the major problem that we have identified and highlighted to the municipal authorities is parking and the management of traffic related to tourists.

"The 200 parking spaces in Upper Square are not enough for the thousands of rental cars. The town is unwelcoming to both visitors and permanent residents, and if the problem is not solved, business in Corfu will suffer. We were promised parking solutions on the outskirts of town, but once again, nothing has been done."