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Economy

Allowed to Reopen as Lockdown Lifts, Some Greek Hotels Stay Shut

ATHENS – Amid fears a 10-week lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus had already done so much economic damage that some hotels won't make it, they were allowed to reopen on June 1, but some stayed closed.

That's because of low bookings with international air traffic not yet resuming and with Greece setting July 1 as the start date to salvage what's left of the critical summer season, tourism the country's biggest revenue engine.

Year-round hotels are now allowed to operate but international flights won't be allowed to land at the airport northeast of Athens until June 15, with uncertainty whether people will be too afraid to fly yet.

With borders also still shut in key tourism markets, some hotels have pushed back their openings due to low reservations, said the news agency Reuters in a report on the reluctance of some hotels in Greece to open their doors yet, including the landmark Grande Bretagne in Syntagma Square and the adjacent King George. 

"We got our jobs back, but there is stress and uncertainty over the future," Spyros Divanis, Managing Director of Divani Hotels, told the news agency.

Only one seaside hotel in Athens of seven hotels in the chain opened and he said the rest will wait to see if there are enough bookings as hotels are required to enforce strict hygiene protocols, incurring extra costs and limiting guests.

Tourism makes up as much as 20 percent of Greece's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of  179.87 billion euros ($200.3 billion) and accounts for hundreds of thousands of jobs that could be in jeopardy.

With one of the world's best records in dealing with the pandemic because of the early lockdown that limited deaths to 179 as of June 1, Greece is seen as one of the safest destinations for visitors, those who aren't too afraid the virus will resurge.

Year-round hotels also rely on conferences, which have switched to the internet since the health crisis erupted, and on cruise shipping, which is not expected to resume anytime soon, the report said.

"It will definitely be a tough summer, but we are here to restart tourism, to help the economy," said Greek Chamber of Hotels' Vice President Christina Tetradis. 

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