Παρασκευή 12.07.2024 ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ

International flight arrivals increase in May but not all beds filled

tourism
04 Ιουνίου 2024 / 14:39

CORFU. A positive start in June at the airport. The early bookings from the previous year΄s contracts are ΄lifesaving΄ for the hotels with 90% occupancy in the first month of summer.

May also ended with a double-digit increase in international flight arrivals at Corfu Airport, continuing the positive momentum from April. However, the numbers in hotel and rental accommodation left a bittersweet taste for business owners, as not all beds were filled. June, however, seems to be moving towards high occupancy, due to early bookings from last year's contracts and attractive offers.

May ended with a 13.3% increase in the number of international flight arrivals at Corfu AIrport, according to the data from the Corfu Civil Aviation Authority Employees Union. Overall, there were 1,201 arrivals, compared to 1,060 in May of last year. More specifically, from the United Kingdom, which is top of the list, there were 575 flights (458 last year), from Germany 261 (264), from France 75 (62), from Poland 63 (65), from Belgium 46 (25), from the Netherlands 34 (36), from Italy 26 (21), from Spain 20, from Switzerland 18 (11), from Ireland 16 (21), from Latvia 15 (7), and from Austria 12 (24).

Not all beds filled

However, the double-digit increase in international flight arrivals for the month of May was not reflected in hotels and rental accommodation, as not all beds were filled. Except for the Easter period, which this year fell within the tourist season and there was not a single room available, occupancy for the rest of the month reached 75% in hotels, according to business estimates.

'We don't have official records, but according to colleagues' reports, occupancy reached 75% for May," Konstantinos Merianos, the general secretary of the Corfu Hoteliers' Association, told Enimerosi. "Apart from the Easter days, the month did not see the level of occupancy that we hoteliers expected. This is due to increased competition, as accommodation is more affordable in short-term rentals." He added that hoteliers have been suffering from an uncontrolled situation for years, while at the same time facing all kinds of costs.

A slight drop in accommodation was also noted last month in rental accommodation, as Pericles Katsaros, the President of the Corfu Federation of Tourist Accommodation Owners told Enimerosi. "May did not go very well. It also has to do with the fact that non-Orthodox Easter fell very early this year, bringing in visitors then, while the opening of the season coincided with Orthodox Easter, during which we had a lot of visitors, both tourists and Greeks, for that specific period. The two-week crisis that occurs in June happened earlier, in May. There is a general decline, not very large, which we did not have last year. However, we cannot specify the number of empty beds."

Arrivals without accommodation

Mr. Katsaros said that the official arrival figures at the airport concern entry to the island and not the stay, as they also include those heading for cruises (due to the home port at Corfu's port), neighbouring Albania, and other competitive destinations such as Parga, Syvota, and Preveza. "Based on last year's experience, 4,000 - 5,000 visitors head for cruises every week due to the home port, and another 2,000 or so leave daily for Albania," he said. "We do not know how many use Corfu Airport as an intermediate stop to go to Parga, Syvota, and Preveza."

Increase in flight schedules and new routes in June

Meanwhile, the first month of summer has had a strong start at Corfu Airport. As Dimitris Roussos, President of the Corfu Civil Aviation Authority Employees Union, told Enimerosi, June has seen an increased number of arrivals from the very first week, as airlines are increasing flight schedules and adding new locations according to their initial plans. Indicatively, during the first three days of June, there were 200 international flights, with 70 arriving on Saturday (1/06), 66 on Sunday, and 64 yesterday, Monday, with daily traffic expected to continue at this level or slightly higher.

For instance, from Italy, where until now there was only a connection from Milan, additional locations include Venice, Naples, Bologna, Rome, Turin, Bari, and Bolzano. Flights are also starting from Zagreb, Niš, Sofia, Budapest, Bucharest, Vilnius (Lithuania), Aarhus (Denmark), Bratislava, Shannon (Ireland), Poznan and Gdansk (Poland), Dubai (from 15/6), Pécs (Hungary), etc.

Saved by early bookings

June, however, seems to be going well in terms of accommodation. In the hotel sector, early bookings from last year's contracts have proven to be 'lifesaving,' with occupancy rates for the month reaching 90%.

"June appears to be seeing a recovery, as there are bookings from contracts made last September and from special offers. Beds in June will be filled. July and August are concerning, as we currently don't have occupancy rates reaching 100%. To fill the gaps in August, new offers are being made, in addition to those that have already been offered made," said Mr. Merianos.

Serious staff shortages

June bookings are also satisfactory for rental accommodations, according to Mr. Katsaros. However, as he pointed out, the problem of staff shortages remains, and for this reason, businesses in the catering and accommodation sectors have reduced their operating hours. "We will have visitors in Corfu, but not enough staff to serve them, due to the lack of human resources," he said.

Regarding the same issue, Mr. Merianos commented that the state should support local Tourism Schools, along with university departments. As he said, there is no provision for new people to be trained in this crucial sector, so that key positions, which span the entire tourism spectrum from welcoming visitors at the airport and transfers to staffing hotels and accommodation, can be filled with specialised personnel.

MARIA BAZDRIYIANNI

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