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Economy

Greece Wants to Keep Tourists Coming Past Summer Season

ATHENS – Now open to tourists who are free of COVID-19, Greece expects big numbers of people fleeing the terror will pour into the country and hopes it will last past the high season of summer into the autumn.

While the initial arrivals are modest, including bookings in June, market analysts expect they will jump with the hot weather and people frantic to escape the pandemic, with Greece and its islands one of the world's top lures this year.

Reservations are already picking up and the signs are that people will come after summer for attractions other than sand and sun and surf, with the fall a good time to view archaeological sites without the brutal heat on your back.

“If there is nothing unpredictable, then we will have a good autumn,” Yiannis Retsos, president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) told Kathimerini in a reference to the volatile COVID-19 that has shown resilience and can spoke.

He told the newspaper of  a “hidden enthusiasm that things will go well,” as Greece keeps easing away from a lenient lockdown, opening businesses, restaurants expected to be allowed indoor seating in June and islands beckoning.

“Estimates in the industry have always been risky and, at this juncture, are even more so,” he said. “However, I am optimistic that we will achieve the goal of recovering part of the revenue compared to 2019,” he added. 

“People are tired and will plan trips,” Retsos said, pointing to late June as when a surge of visitors could arrive, those who are vaccinated or have negative tests or had survived the virus, as Greece is accelerating its own inoculation drive.

He said that he also believes that this year the travel inflows will “last longer than usual and longer than last year when the second wave of the pandemic froze travel in September.”

“We have reservations from the United Kingdom and Germany, while at the moment we have visitors from France and Israel – although with the recent conflicts there we may have some developments,” he said.

While the United States had warned that Greece wasn't safe for travel, it's not prohibited and Americans are starting to come in some numbers, especially Greek-Americans locked out of their family's homeland in 2020.

“Russia remains a huge question as, while there is a great desire from Russian travelers, the Russian government is hindering the resumption of travel, which is part of the general Europe-Russia geopolitical game,” Retsos said, with tensions over a number of years.

The Chief Financial Officer Officer  German travel group TUI AG, Sebastian Ebel, told the newspaper that bookings are being made into October and said it could go into November with people who don't like traveling in the heat of summer.

has confirmed to Kathimerini that bookings go all the way to October and did not Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis noted that Greece is the top-ranking countryfor visitors and that more US airlines have added direct flights to Athens to meet a swelling demand, and that the EU will have in place by summer the so-called Digital Green Certificate for people who are not infected or are immune. 

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