Too Many Tourists: Greek Island Hotels Put Up No Vacancy Signs

(Photo by IconPress/Christos Doudoumis, FILE)

If you’re looking to rent a hotel room on Greek islands whose popularity is exploding during a record run of tourists flocking to the country, you’ll have to check on 2019 for summer availability.

The limited number of beds on small but popular islands, combined with the early bookings of tourists had seen rooms snapped up fast and early, unlike earlier years when people getting off a ferry boat could find people waiting for them and offering rooms cheap.

Some 90 percent of the rooms on the most popular islands are already taken or too expensive for most travelers, said Kathimerini, even though the tourism ministry does little to promote the country through advertising or other reach-out campaigns.

“This year I was making calls for two weeks just to find a room on Amorgos (island) for August. I had to compromise my requirements and got forced to accept a change of room for two out of the seven days,” Michalis V., a schoolteacher, told the paper. “When I was a kid with my parents we used to choose a room on the spot,” he remembers.

“If you’re looking for a room on Naxos at peak season, you will fail as the beds are particularly few, in the same range as five years ago. The same goes for Paros and the Ionian islands. On the Cyclades, especially on small islands with a few beds, you cannot even find anything in July, or you will find something that is particularly expensive,” said Grigoris Tasios, the President of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation. He adds that only 25,000 beds were added in Greece in 2018, which is “minimal” in relation to the rise in demand.

The situation is a little better on Crete, Rhodes and Kos, more prepared for mass tourism, while upscale places are also faring better, equipped to handle bigger numbers, although at luxury rates that haven’t daunted the rich.