German Tourism: Greece bookings rise despite refugee rise in some areas. Crete on top

The latest wave of refugees arriving on Kos, Lesbos and Samos has impacted on German bookings for those islands but demand for the rest of Greece has not been affected so far, according to tour operators and hoteliers, fvw reports.

TUI currently has a 12% increase in German bookings for Greece, with particularly high growth for Crete, Corfu and the mainland, while Kos is slightly lower. Bookings for Lesbos and Samos are much lower but these two islands only have low visitor numbers and play a minor role for Greece as a destination. “As far as the issue of refugee routes is concerned, holidaymakers apparently know how to differentiate between the various Greek destinations,” TUI Germany stated.

Thomas Cook confirmed that Crete, Rhodes, Corfu and Kos are its four top destinations in Greece. “We don’t have any cancellations for Greece. The country is still the third most popular destination for our customers in summer 2016,” a spokesman said.

Alltours said bookings for Crete and Rhodes are booming but confirmed that “Kos and Samos are currently below last year, also due to the refugee situation”. Overall, the tour operator currently has stable figures for Greece but expects to generate growth this year.

Overall bookings

German bookings for Greece are currently about 2-3% higher than last year, while overall bookings from all source markets are up by about 5%, according to Andreas Andreadis, president of the tourism association SETE. However, bookings for Kos have slumped about 20%, he confirmed.

Hotelier Frantzis Argyropoulos, head of Kos-based Verano Hotels, said the group has a drop of 20-30% for early bookings, including 35-40% for some properties. But he denied there is any wave of cancellations at present and stressed: “I’m confident that many holidaymakers who are still hesitating will book eventually.” Satisfied customers from last year who report positively on evaluation portals “are our best ambassadors”, he commented.

Kos attracted some 200,000 visitors from Germany last year out of a total of 900,000 visitors. The island lies in third place with Corfu among Greek destinations for Germans, after Crete and Rhodes. Some 2.6 million Germans holidayed in Greece last year

Leading German tour operators have increased capacity for Greece this year in the expectation of rising bookings despite package price rises of about 3-4%. For example, TUI expanded its hotel portfolio by 30%, FTI increased capacity by 15%, and Alltours added 40 more hotels.

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