The summer destination of Greece is looking to reopen by June 1, thanks to the increasing numbers of people around the world getting vaccinated against the virus, particularly those from the United Kingdom; British tourists have already booked Greek holidays in notable numbers.
The country’s economy is highly dependent on tourism – it makes up 20% of its GDP – and Greek officials are looking forward to welcoming tourists back for what they hope will be a busy summer season as their country attempts to rebound from its most damaging financial year in more than a decade.
Its economy dropped by 10% in 2020 thanks to an 80% reduction in the nation’s tourism revenue.
Ernst & Young analysts are predicting that Greece’s economic state will improve by 50% in 2021, which would result in 15 million visitors, half of the corresponding figure from 2019.
According to Grigoris Tassios, Greece’s hoteliers federation’s president, British tourists “will be among the safest to travel here by as early in May.” Additionally, Israel has set the world’s vaccinating pace, already vaccinating more than 25% of its population and having recently started to vaccinate all who are 16 and older while the U.S. has vaccinated, at least partially, more people than had tested positive for this virus.
The plan is to start allowing tourists to simply take a COVID-19 test and provide evidence of a negative result and not need to participate in a quarantine of any length.
However, it is not a sure thing as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is believed to be considering implementing what would be the country’s fourth national lockdown.
This is the result of a surge that his country is experiencing, including Feb. 2 being the highest daily increase in confirmed cases since Dec. 11. Meanwhile, 3% of the country’s populace has received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Three Greek regions – Attica, Halkidiki and Thessaloniki – did experience a tightening of restrictions on Friday, which will last at least 10 days.
For example, high schools there have been closed with teaching moving online, and few stores can be open over the weekends. The start of the curfew there will also now start at 6 p.m., three hours earlier, on weekend nights. It will still end at 5 a.m. seven days a week.
As a result, Greece continues to experience what so much of the world has been for the past year-plus, attempting to balance the safety of its people with the health of its economy.
Regardless, many in the Greek tourism industry have been told that the government will subsidize their salaries this summer although it is as of yet unknown whether any governmental assistance will help with reopening costs.