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The Dilemmas Posed by the Coronavirus in View of the Tourist Season

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

As the temperature rises and the weather begins to resemble summer, the big question here in Greece, apart from the coronavirus, is what will happen with tourism.

Undoubtedly, the same question concerns the government, which is in a hurry to take measures that will allow it to slowly open the economy, always combined with the hope that by the summer months the greatest percentage of Greeks will be vaccinated.

It is easy to understand why the discussions are centered around tourism.

The Greek economic model, as it has been set up for at least 50 years, relies heavily on tourism, which accounts for about 18% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Thus, positive fluctuations in the so-called tourism ‘product’ have a beneficial effect on the whole economy, while the opposite creates problems.

The positive momentum that is being created in the United States with the increasing rate of vaccinations, combined with the need for a break from the pandemic and a long period of recreation on some Greek island, has begun to create a positive flow of tourism to Greece.

Unfortunately, this has been mitigated, if not reversed, after the vaccination missteps and slow steps in Europe and the new wave of the coronavirus throughout almost all of Europe and of course in Greece.

And now there is the cancellation of the direct flights Delta Airlines to Athens which were scheduled to start in early May, an extremely negative development for Greek tourism.

This is because, in addition to the direct consequences that the cancellation of Delta flights will have, it creates a negative climate for the other airlines that planned to fly to Athens.

In addition, it will affect people who already made their plans to travel to Greece and will be forced to change them.

This creates a lot of uncertainty in the tourism sector, as businessmen and employees are unable to plan properly.

Delta has announced that it will schedule flights for the beginning of June. Other companies, such as Emirates and American Airlines, did the same.

However, even if this is the case, the time constraints for tourism companies are suffocatingly limited.

True, everyone still expects that this year will be better than last year, but this cannot be the measure of comparison.

So there are tough questions, both about the ability of hotels to survive – many of which were already in a difficult situation before the coronavirus – and about the ability of employees to stay in the sector with no consistent income.

Let us hope, then, that Europe will be able to obtain the vaccines it needs in time, and that America will help.

As far as the Greek government is concerned, one would think that the policy of imposing stricter measures now to control the situation is preferable to applying milder ones only to have to impose stricter ones later (a la France).