September 22, 2023
Want you have been right here? Greece and Spain provide older Britons escape from hovering payments | UK value of dwelling disaster

It’s mid-January, the brand new 12 months has begun and Heraklion, the Cretan capital, is abuzz with vacationers – most of them silver-haired. Over in Rhodes, senior residents lap up the solar’s rays within the island’s elegant port city, many having fun with journeys that started in November.

These scenes are usually not actual – at the very least not but. Vassilis Kikilias, Greece’s tourism minister, hopes they quickly will probably be as he seems to be to profit from an vitality disaster, hovering payments and international uncertainty. “Our doorways are open 12 months spherical, our mates in northern Europe ought to know this. They need to head right here for the winter.”

Subsequent week, Athens will roll out a €20m (£17.5m) promoting marketing campaign urging pensioners to do exactly that. “Wanna really feel 20 once more?” asks one of many billboards slated to seem in London and different capitals throughout the continent. “With heat winter temperatures as much as 20C, Greece is the place to be,” it proclaims, subsequent to a picture of an older couple lounging on a yacht, wine glasses in hand.

Greece shouldn’t be the one place with a heat greeting for residents of colder climes. Tourism operators in Alicante in southern Spain and the Canary Islands are banking on “thermal tourism” to steer northern Europeans confronted with hovering payments to go away house and spend the winter within the solar.

“From what we’re seeing, individuals are realising that it’s cheaper to come back right here than to place the heating on at house,” stated Miguel Ángel Sotillos, president of the Spanish federation of vacationer residences.

Kikilias has spent months engaged on Greece’s initiative. In September, he visited Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Stockholm to ram house the message, holding talks with pension fund managers, federations, tour operators and air carriers lined as much as fly into Greek locations all through the winter.

“There’ll be clusters related by direct flights with inns and eating places which are ready to remain open,” he advised the Observer. “What we’re saying is that it is likely to be less expensive to show off the warmth again house and are available right here. It’s so simple as that.”

Want you have been right here? Greece and Spain provide older Britons escape from hovering payments | UK value of dwelling disaster
A part of the Greece advert marketing campaign to lure northern European pensioners.

Greece has loved an unexpectedly buoyant vacationer season, with revenues and arrivals anticipated to exceed these of pre-pandemic 2019, a report 12 months when the nation attracted some 33.1 million individuals and greater than €18bn in vacationer earnings.

Visiting celebrities and Hollywood stars haven’t solely given free publicity however helped increase ties with the US. The primary direct American flight – certainly one of an unprecedented 9 every day – flew into Athens from New York on 8 March, kickstarting a market credited with selling a sector that accounts for 25% of GDP and one in 5 jobs.

However the post-pandemic surge has not been with out its critics. Accusations of over-tourism have been plentiful, not least on the extra in style islands and in Athens, the place customer numbers topped 4 million in August alone.

Kikilias accepts that the search to lure holidaymakers who may not usually go to within the sizzling summer season months can also be linked to a want to see the vacationer season extended. “The infrastructure on smaller islands was merely not constructed to accommodate so many individuals,” he concedes. “There was a time when Greece was solely about solar, sand and sea, which is now not true. There was a time when it will have been exhausting to think about guests right here within the winter, however that’s now not the case both.”

That is the primary time that Greece has concertedly tried to model itself as a winter vacation spot, with officers brazenly admitting that the technique is to copy the success of Spain, lengthy a vacation spot for retirees low season. Pictures of the Greek sundown subsequent to radiators which may in any other case warmth properties are anticipated to loom giant in an promoting marketing campaign that can even be digital.

“Folks, particularly pensioners, have at all times thought in regards to the western Mediterranean within the winter months,” says Dimitris Maziotis, a PR strategist and senior aide to Kikilias who helped conceive the marketing campaign. “What we’re saying is the jap Mediterranean is right here too.”

As a part of the drive, airways and tour operators will obtain funds each to promote Greece and preserve routes going all through the winter months. In a nation that has but to nominate a tsar to advocate insurance policies for the aged – regardless of having one of many oldest demographics within the EU – or have retirement villages or housing that might cater for the third age, choices are essentially restricted.

Cities with good hospitals and medical care will probably be among the many locations which are promoted. “Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Kos and Crete are on the record,” explains Maziotis. “They’re not solely larger, with inns that can keep open, however within the case of Crete hotter too.”

The initiative, he provides, can even goal digital nomads and {couples} with pre-school youngsters.

The preliminary response to the prospect of winter within the solar as Europe heads into November has been promising. Cecilie Eslander, chief govt of Stockholm-based Grand Excursions, which is owned by a 300,000-strong federation of senior residents, says the response to the information has been overwhelmingly optimistic.

“It’s getting darker and colder right here, and Greece is at all times in style,” she says, days after assembly Kikilias within the Swedish capital. “I feel Norwegians and Swedes would love to go to but it surely’s at all times been Spain in winter, not Greece, and that’s partly as a result of a lot of the inns have been closed. Now that we all know, we’ve deliberate a strolling and train journey there with a Swedish celeb TV coach in late October. Everybody is worked up.”

Extra reporting by Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

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