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Greece's Post COVID-19 New Recovery Hopes Hinge on Tourism

Αssociated Press

People walk in front of the Gate of the ancient Roman agora with the ancient Acropolis hill seen in the background in the traditional Plaka district of Athens, as lockdown measures continue to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, on Monday April 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Still hoping to salvage some sense of a summer season – depending on how many people might after COVID-19 Coronavirus lockdowns are lifted around the world – Greece's New Democracy is cobbling together plans to convince visitors that hotels and other facilities are safe.

The scheme is being worked out with the Health Ministry to insure strict hygiene protocols would be in place throughout the country as well as tourism areas, including sanitizing, social distancing and limiting customers in restaurants and other places.

Prime Minister Kyrikos Mitsotakis' office is almost ready to announce a package, said Kathimerini, with a team including Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis, State Minister Giorgos Gerapetris, and the Health Ministry's advisor on the COVID-19 response, University of Athens Professor and infectious diseases expert. Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras.

Tourism accounts for as much as 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 180.54 billion euros ($200.3 billion) and was the savior of the country during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis as the biggest revenue engine.

But estimates now are that it could fall off as much as 70 percent and while Theoharis said he hopes tourism will resume in July, a month after year-round hotels will be allowed to reopen, that could be too late for resorts, with the added unknown factor being when international air traffic will fully resume.

The plan has four pillars, the paper said, including rules of operation for hotels and other facilities, as well as supporting employment, economic measures to bolster tourism-dependent areas as well as compensation.

Te Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) set the priorities and also being looked at is a reduction in the Value Added Tax (VAT) and waiving the income tax deposit for this year to prevent a total wipeout.