Greece’s accommodation services providers will be devastated by the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Revenues for Q2 of 2020 reveal a 94.3 percent drop compared to 2019’s numbers. The figures by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) show island communities smashed by the situation.
Here on Crete, the Lassithi Prefecture recorded the sharpest decline of any region in Greece with a 99.5 percent loss in revenue compared to 2019. Heraklion Prefecture did not fare much better as accommodations sector recorded a 98.3% drop. The food and beverage sector fared better only losing 59% compared to 2019 across all of Greece.
Santorini and other islands which are almost totally dependent on tourism, saw revenues virtually disappear. Q2 turnover for the world’s most famous romantic island destination sank by 95.6 percent year on year.
Late last month the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said Greece’s economy will contract by 8% this year. That report went on to say the impact of the coronavirus crisis was a setback to Greece’s longer-term economic recovery.
The report also said that if a second wave of the virus strikes, Greece’s economy could shrink by almost 10%. The IMF predictions are even worse saying Greece’s GDP will shrink by over 11%.
Meanwhile, as Turkey’s economy collapses, friction between Greece and that country threatens to crush tourism and other industry even further. If all-out war does not break out, the negative impacts of a belligerent Turkish push to apparently capture Greek territory will certainly hamper foreign investment and visits.
Reports that some Greek hotels have slashed prices to entice UK bookings show how desperate the situation is, and hint at how catastrophic it may get. Newspapers in Britain are claiming week-long stays in Rhodes, Kos, or on Crete can cost less than £17 per person per night.
Here on Crete finding a foreigner on the streets or at the beach is an exercise in amazement if you compare 2020 to 2019 or before. The main shopping street of Heraklion has zero tourists even though some of the local hotels are now at full capacity. Some visitors are arriving but almost all of those are staying at all-inclusive resorts or Airbnb accommodations near the beaches. Busses are empty, museums unused, and restaurants and bars only have local customers.
Many hotels are already out of business and for sale. Every town on Crete has more than one restaurant, taverna, or cafe that has gone broke or that has changed hands since March when the pandemic first hit. The retail sector here is smashed except for locals trying to support one another. And amid all this upheaval the government still announces marketing campaigns and uplifting numbers.
The jury is still out on COVID-19 but it seems clear that Greece and the world have not hit bottom yet.