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Bookings begin for hotels and rental accommodation

tourism
21 Jan 2024 / 11:22

CORFU. The first charter flights are expected in the last week of March. Positive signs for the new tourist season.

Cautious optimism prevails among professionals in the tourism industry in Corfu for the upcoming tourist season, expected to start in about two and a half months. Bookings are proceeding well, especially after the festive season, with increased interest, particularly from British tourists, who hurried to book their holidays at more affordable prices, taking advantage of the offers and discounts available during this time, thus boosting demand for the winter period.

The President of Corfu Hoteliers Association, Babis Voulgaris, told Enimerosi that there was a strong momentum 2023 season, and the current market is already moving with a slight increase in bookings, albeit in single-digit figures. He emphasised the significant contribution from the British market, from which Corfu receives the overwhelming majority of its visitors. Additionally, there is an upward trend in the German market compared to last year, as well as in other markets (France, Poland), including Israel.

 

"Although the economic situation in Europe is not good, people are still choosing to travel," he said. "We are now at pre-pandemic levels despite the slight economic downturn of the Euro, which, however, does not seem to affect the willingness to travel. The positive aspect is that Greece remains among the top preferences for both Europeans and Americans, a trend reflected in Corfu as well."

Number of 5-star hotels has doubled

He attributedthis  to the changing image of the island, as there are now many five-star hotels and significant renovations with upgrades in star categories, providing high-level services to visitors. However, the 'thorn' of improving public infrastructure remains. Also noted on the positive side is the extension of the tourist season by JET2 airlines, which will start its flight programme three and a half weeks earlier, beginning in late March and ending in late October.

Another element that has been observed is that the interest of visitors is now turning not only to the high season, as many now choose to holiday in September and October. "We are seeing an increase for these two months, which could lead to a further extension of the season. We cannot live with a season for only 3-4 months; there must be a balance beyond this period," said Mr. Voulgaris.

8.4% Increase in international arrivals

International air arrivals at Corfu Airport showed an upward trend in 2023, recording an 8.4% increase, with visitors totalling 1.8 million. Both September and October performed well, showing positive growth compared to the same months of the previous year.

Rental accommodation

As for rental accommodations, the messages are optimistic. the President of the Federation of Corfu Tourist Accommodation Owners, Pericles Katsaros,told Enimerosi that the number of bookings coming in is very good. The 2024 tourist season is expected to be a good year, barring any unforeseen events.

Last week of March

The new season is expected to begin in the last week of March with the first charter flights from the UK. According to the Director of Corfu Airport, Spyros Kostouras of Fraport, the exact date will be known by late January. With the start of the season, a gradual opening of hotels and accommodations is anticipated, considering that April follows the Catholic Easter. Most hotels, however, are expected to open from mid to late April, in preparation for the Orthodox Easter, with Corfu emerging as a protagonist during those days.

Serious shortages of personnel

Regarding the serious issue of staff shortage, part of the needs will be covered this year with temporary workers from third countries. However, due to time-consuming procedures, the simplification of these procedures has been requested, as Mr. Voulgaris stated in an interview with Enimerosi. "Last year, the procedure worked with delays and operated inefficiently. SETE has requested corrections and the reduction of time-consuming procedures, but it requires willingness,' he said, pointing out that staffing needs are first met by local human resources, followed by domestic, and lastly by temporary workers.

MARIA BAZDRIYIANNI

Photo: Enimerosi archive