Tour operators in southern European countries hope to capitalize on cold winters and energy costs elsewhere on the continent by promoting their warmer climates as winter approaches.
Destinations such as Greece, southern Spain and the Canary Islands are taking advantage of ‘thermal tourism’, a trend in the UK to fly to cheaper, warmer climates to escape winter and the UK’s cost of living crisis.
This was announced by Greece’s tourism minister, Vassilis Kikilias the Observer: “Our doors are open for 12 months, our friends in Northern Europe should know that. You should spend the winter here.”
A £17.5million (€20million) Greek ad campaign will be released shortly and is titled ‘Want to feel 20 again? With warm winter temperatures of up to 20°C, Greece is the right place.”
Images for the campaign show an elderly couple on a yacht, drinking from wine glasses and eating watermelons.
Meanwhile, the president of the Spanish Confederation of Tourism Departments, Miguel Ángel Sotillos, told the observer: “From what we’re seeing, people are realizing that it’s cheaper to come here than heat at home.”
“There will be clusters connected by direct flights with hotels and restaurants willing to stay open,” he continued.
“What we’re saying is that it might be less costly to turn off the heat at home and come here. As simple as that.”
The UK isn’t the only place where holidaymakers are tempted with the idea of a long winter break in the sun.
A number of travel agents and tour operators in Ireland offer long stay deals of three or four weeks or more to destinations such as the Algarve and Costa del Sol.
“We’ve had a lot of clients booking winter holidays because it’s cheaper to holiday in Spain in a four-star hotel than to heat their homes in Ireland,” said one, Paul Hackett of clickandgo.com.
The packages he quotes include flights and a three-week stay with half board in a four-star hotel in Fuengirola from €869 per person, in Benalmádena from €949 per person or in Torremolinos from €979 per person.
Other offers include a special offer for over 50s to the Costa del Sol by John Galligan Travel (€878 per person for three weeks, based on two people sharing a studio apartment).
The Greek tourism industry has boomed this summer as it appears to have earned more from foreign holidaymakers than it did in 2019 (pre-pandemic) when it brought in €18 billion from 33.1 million travellers.
“People, especially pensioners, always had the western Mediterranean on their mind during the winter months,” said Dimitris Maziotis, a public relations strategist who worked on the Greece campaign.
“What we’re saying is that the eastern Mediterranean is here too.”
With Greece rarely marketing itself as a winter destination to British or Irish holidaymakers, its culture-rich cities will take center stage, with airlines and hotels incentivized to operate year-round.
“Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Kos and Crete are on the list,” explains Maziotis. “Not only are they bigger, with hotels staying open, but in the case of Crete, they’re also warmer.”
As the cost of living crisis continues to deepen, bills have become a source of stress for many – particularly the older generation, who worry about the cold combined with a lack of income.
The first flare of “thermal tourism” appeared when the UK Travel agency TravelTime World launched a campaign called “The Heat is On” in September. which urged travelers to take longer holidays this winter rather than bear the cost of living in the UK.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/travel-news/thermal-tourism-greece-and-spain-say-winter-holidays-could-be-cheaper-than-putting-the-heating-on-42056617.html ‘Thermal tourism’ – Greece and Spain say winter holidays ‘could be cheaper than turning on the heat’