ATHENS – Greece is eager to salvage part of the summer tourism season as lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 begin being peeled back but it depends in part on other countries not planning to quarantine residents returning from holidays.
Year-round hotels are due to open in Greece on June 1, possibly sooner, followed by holiday resorts and hotels as the New Democracy governments wants tourism to resume in July and has put together a plan that includes health protocols for establishments in tourist areas.
A key is what other countries will do, however, as well as when international air traffic will resume in force and whether people will be too fearful to travel in the early days after lockdowns are lifted.
“If the German, Russian or American governments quarantine everyone returning from our country, then no tourists will come. What is required is diplomacy,” Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis said, reported Kathimerini, adding he hopes for domestic tourism to step up.
adding that domestic tourism will also be bolstered.
Tourism makes up as much as 18-20 percent of Greece’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 184.57 billion euros ($200.3 billion) and had been the saving grace during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis.
The three-pronged tourism restart plan cites diplomacy and also special health safety protocols designed for hotels, marinas, pleasure yachts, tour buses, airplanes and other areas where tourists congregate.
Technical teams are working on the scheme which is expected to be finalized by May 8 by the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry to set requirements for hotels, restaurants, taverns and other businesses.
The third part of the plan involves a new public advertising campaign promoting Greece as a destination and contacts with international tour operators and media to enhance the country’s image after the earlier launch of a virtual platform to visit remotely.
In an interview with CNN, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the country could reopen to tourists on July 1 if there’s no resurgence of the virus and people stick to health guidelines with the lockdown lifting.
“The tourism experience this summer may be slightly different from what you’ve had in previous years, with more social distancing, maybe no bars open but you can still get a fantastic experience in Greece provided that the global epidemic is on a downward path,” he also said.