Thomas Cook Travel Agency Says Greece This Year’s Hot Spot

FILE - Tolo, Argolida, Greece. Photo: Eurokinissi/Vasilis Papadopoulos

The noted British travel agency Thomas Cook said Greece as the “standout destination” for tourists this summer, with the Greek government expecting another record-breaking year and as many as 30 million visitors.

With bookings to Egypt and Turkey recovering after terrorist attacks hit demand Greece still remains the place to go, giving the government hopes they will spend more than did visitors last year who kept their wallets in their pockets mostly.

Thomas Cook said holiday sales to Greece surged 36% in the half-year to March 31. Chief Executive Peter Fankhauser said: “Greece continues to be the standout destination for summer 17, while customers are also seeking out smaller European destinations like Cyprus and Bulgaria, as well as travelling further afield.

“In contrast, following strong growth last year, bookings to the Spanish Islands have levelled off in a very competitive market.”

In a meeting with reporters on May 3, the President of the Hellenic Hotel Federation and next chief of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Yiannis Retsos said that this year the occupancy rate and the number of nights spent by tourists at hotels will post new highs.

But he wouldn’t speculate on the revenues, Kathimerini said, saying only that the bookings made, concerning 50 percent of hotel room capacity, were offered on discounted rates as the industry faces competition from short-term room, apartment and home rentals from Airbnb and others. Still, revenues of 14.5 billion euros ($15.79 billion) is being projected although the industry said it must wait until July to see if the optimism will be borne ot.

Record hordes of tourists in 2016 didn’t translate into big revenues for Greece as the visitors spent drastically less than in previous years.

The numbers fell for expenditure per visit from abroad, spending per overnight stay and duration of stay, while travel takings posted a decline of 919 million euros ($980.63 million) the Bank of Greece reported, contradicting government figures the banner year was a financial boon too.