ATHENS – Hoping to salvage what's left of a summer season to boost an economy brought down by the COVID-19 Coronavirus and a long lockdown of businesses, Greece's scheme to lure visitors is being called Restart Tourism.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, at the unveiling of the campaign, said that, “We hope to be able to welcome visitors safely, first and foremost, and that this, the summer of 2020, will be a memorable one.”
“Greece is more than just sea and sun,” said Mitsotakis. “What we want to communicate is that Greek summer…is a state of mind,” although the prospects are uncertain after 12 passengers arriving on a Qatar Airways flight were put into quarantine after testing positive for the virus.
Strict health protocols will be in place, especially in hotels although some have not yet opened although allowed under a gradual lifting of the lockdown because they don't have enough bookings and international air traffic hasn't resumed in force.
While more flights will be allowed to land beginning June 15, the target for the reopening is July 1, with Mitsotakis saying that tourists “will be coming to a Greece that’s the same yet also different.”
“Basic health protocols will have to be applied without exception. Safeguarding public health, the safety of visitors and tourism workers, are our top, non-negotiable priority,” Mitsotakis said, reported Kathimerini.
The Tourism Ministry campaign was presented at an event in Athens by the head of Rebranding Greece and the government’s Chief Creative Officer, Steve Vranakis, ahead of the official reopening of the Greek tourism season.
Greece had one of the best records in the world in dealing with the pandemic because of an early lockdown on March 23 that held down the number of cases and fatalities, which the government hopes will persuade visitors it's safe to come.
Tourism is the catalyst, a sector that in 2019 saw 34 million people bringing in some 19 billion euros ($20.9 billion) in revenues but with fears the numbers could fall as much as 70 percent this year with people afraid to travel even after lockdowns end.
The industry employs 850,000 workers with the government pumping in 17.5 billion euros ($19.25 billion) in 800-euro ($880.08) in benefits to workers laid off during the lockdown and businesses subsidized to keep them from going under.
“But tourists will only travel to Greece if they feel it’s safe. Safety must include social distancing, effective and immediate treatment of those who become sick, and contact tracing,” said two Greek heritage analysts for Fortune magazine, William J. Antholis and Filippos Letsas.