Like most have predicted, the 2020 tourism season for Greece has been tough.

According to ΙNSETE Intelligence (the Research Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation) , inbound tourism plunged by 78%. Just 60% of all hotels in Greece operated, most of them for a short period of time. Average occupancy rates during the summer period dropped to 23%, bringing in less than €2.8 billion in revenue – a 67% drop compared to the €8.5 billion of 2019.

“This is an unprecedented season” president of the Hoteliers Chamber Alexandros Vassilikos admitted.

The pandemic has triggered a pan-European discussion on the future of tourism and “the European Tourism ecosystem of tomorrow”.

The main “enemy” is mass tourism and its effects on local communities, the environment, and culture.

The idea is to use the pandemic crisis as a starting point to foster a new tourism model, one that will come from “a green transition” and will support sustainable tourism.

President of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Yannis Retsos believes it is time to turn the page and asks for a more effective management of tourism destinations to avoid “environmental and social damage”.

“We are heading fast to a new reality that will be totally different from the one we knew up until now” Economics Professor at the university of Macedonia, Harry Papapanagos, told GBF. “For Greece, the main area of concern is tourism. we are heading to what we call a more ‘personalized travel experience’. we are moving away from mass tourism, huge hotels, all-inclusive vacation packages”.

Still, the insiders of the tourism industry are more than sceptical.

“Turning away from mass tourism will be disastrous,” Manolis Markopoulos, President of the Hoteliers in Rhodes Island told GBF. “Some characteristics of tourism might change, i.e. demand for specific products. But the main product of Greece, ‘Sea and Sun’ is not easy to change. Not all Greece can become Mykonos. Mykonos and Santorini are fabulous for those that can afford them. “

In Heraklion, Crete, Nikos Chalkiadakis, President of the local hoteliers union, feels the same way.
” What will happen to all the huge hotels we have if we turn our back on mass tourism? “ he asks.

The great debate for the future of Greek tourism has started. You can read all about it in the latest issue of Greek Business File.