UK tour operators are already observing an increase in demand for summer vacation packages, even as the new COVID-19 variant has forced most countries to close their borders to visitors from the UK and driven Greece to require all travelers arriving in Athens from Great Britain to quarantine.
This does not seem to have discouraged the British public from dreaming about summer vacations on Greek islands. In fact, with Greek destinations among the most popular for summer 2021, tour operators and airline companies are adding more flights to their schedules, even though next summer’s epidemiological situation remains uncertain.
British tour operator Jet2 recently announced the addition of 134 new weekly flights to Greece to their summer 2021 portfolio, forecasting a heightened demand for vacation packages to Corfu, Crete (Iraklio), Kos, Kefalonia, Santorini, Rhodes and Zakynthos. The company will add 60 flights per week from Birmingham, 50 from Manchester, 18 from Leeds and 6 from Stansted.
“Demand from customers and independent travel agents is telling us that flights to Greece are very much in demand for the summer of 2021,” said CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays Steve Heapy. “As ever, we’re responding quickly to that demand to give customers even more choice… . Kefalonia, Skiathos and Santorini are magical destinations, and we know that their appeal, coupled with our award-winning customer experience, will make them extremely popular.” He noted that there was no better time to book a vacation in Greece.
It was recently mentioned on a Bloomberg news broadcast that wealthy US citizens intend to celebrate the end of the pandemic with Caribbean and Mediterranean trips; they are, it seems, already making reservations for their summer getaways – the approval of the COVID-19 vaccines has led to an increase in such bookings – and are planning to throw extravagant parties in these destinations, celebrations with budgets of up to $1 million.
In an interview with Real FM, SETE (the Greek Tourism Confederation) president Yiannis Retsos stated his belief that Greek tourism will start recovering by the summer of 2021. “If something happens as early as May, it would be a very pleasant surprise,” he added.
Retsos said that income from tourism in Greece for 2020 was $4 billion, as compared to $18 billion in 2019. Data from the Bank of Greece shows that tourist arrivals over the period from January and October were down by 76% from the previous year.
This article was first published in Greek at kathimerini.gr