Greek holiday hotels cut prices.
Greek hotel owners are still cutting prices in a bid to end the Greek Island holiday season on a high note. Special holiday deals are expected to continue through to October and beyond. A slow start to this year's tourist season has been blamed on the political instability, street protests and sweeping austerity measures that Greece has suffered this year.
But a spike in summer temperatures in August and more stability generally contributed to a sharp rise in holiday visitor arrivals in the Greek Islands.
Some Greek islands have done even better for tourist numbers than last year, but others have remained in the doldrums with fewer visitors spending less cash.
Greek Island hotel room rates nationwide fell by 25-30% in June, another 10-15% in the peak July-August period and have dropped yet again in September as hotel owners try to generate more income bfore the holiday season comes to a close.
Hotels and room owners on all the islands have also been badly hit by the drop in domestic tourism this year as hard-pressed Greeks stay at home.
International arrival figures for the Sporades islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos are thought to be down by about 15% this year while nearby Mt Pilio, a favourite mainland resort for Greek holidaymakers, has suffered a 10% drop in visitors.
Moves this year to lure new holiday visitors from Russia, Israel and the Balkans have helped and these countries now make up 20% of arrivals from abroad this year, many of them first-time visitors.
It is a similar story in Crete where local tourist leaders forecast a drop of about 10% in holiday visitors overall this year compared to 2011. This is much better than was first thought when, until Greek elections in June, the flow of bookings dried up almost completely.
After a new government was formed, things changed dramatically but it has been hard making up for lost time. Other problems include a drop in the average number of nights visitors stay on holiday – down from 10 nights to eight – and visitors prepared to spend less while on holiday inthe Greek Islands.
As October approaches, classic late-break destinations like Santorini, Rhodes and Crete, which once lured many thousands, expect the season to end on a low note. Islands such as Rhodes and Kos had planned on stretching the holiday season this year from mid-April to mid-November.
The holiday season now looks more likely to end in the dying days of September. Holidaymakers from key markets such as the UK and Germany are finding economic life more difficult themselves and many no longer plan on taking two holidays this year.