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Travel to Greece to resume earlier for TUI in 2022

Europe’s biggest travel company TUI plans to start the first arrivals in Greece next year as of March in a key step in the country’s push to extend the tourism season beyond the hectic summer months.

For years, Greece has been trying been to boost its appeal as a year-round destination but with limited results. Athens had managed to become a more popular winter city destination prior to the pandemic, prompting a boost in hotel investments, in a trend Greek officials hope will soon resume.

In a meeting Tuesday between Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, Sebastian Ebel, TUI Group CFO, and Thomas Ellerbeck, member of the Group Executive Committee and group director Corporate & External Affairs TUI Group, it was decided that TUI will start travel to Greece in March to selected destinations.

The travel group aims to exceed the 3-million visitor target for Greece in 2022, reaching pre-pandemic business levels, officials said.

Greece is about to launch two campaigns to support the tourist industry.

“One is for now, November, December and January and will relate to alternative destinations, those that are not for the summer, such as city breaks, so that we can support hotels. Seasonal accommodation is still still active as until November 16 we have flights to Corfu, Rhodes, Crete, Athens, Thessaloniki,” the minister told SKAI TV.

“Our second big campaign is for February and March, when the big packages for summer tourism are closed. Our goal is a holistic plan of a comprehensive policy that will attract more visitors for the 12 months of the year,” he added.

With the country’s tourism season performing better than expected this year, confidence in the sector is growing.

Although booking in the months of December-January months are crucial in determining the plight of the upcoming season, Greek officials are already talking about a strong 2022.

On Tuesday, the president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Giannis Retsos, said that the sector is likely to recapture 2019 numbers next year.

In 2019, Greece had a record year with arrivals reaching 32 million tourists, drawing revenues of 18.2 billion euros.

Hotels back in focus

The improved outlook in the hospitality industry is also supporting growing demand for hotel investments, which had been snubbed during the pandemic.

A number of global investment funds not active in Greece are said to be hovering above Athens and some of the larger islands, such as Crete, Rhodes and Corfu.

Most have a preference for hotels that are already operating and need renovation work rather than starting from scratch, avoiding time consuming permit processes.

Assets at the upper end of the hospitality market, for both luxury resorts and high-end branded hotels, are being largely targeted, in a trend seen continuing.

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