Greece is open to tourists and longs to move beyond the crisis season

Rhodes, Greece — Greece began to be open to tourists on April 19 with few reservations, but hopes for a better season to make up for the devastation of the 2020 pandemic.

On Rhodes, where most visitors come from abroad, hoteliers scrub, polish and paint in anticipation of break years.

George Tselios, general manager of the Sun Beach Hotel, which has customers from Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom, said:

Greece will officially open on 14 May, but since 19 April tourists from the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Serbia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have been tested to see if they have been vaccinated. If is negative, there is no need to quarantine. COVID-19 (new coronavirus infection.

Tourism, which creates one-fifth and one-fifth jobs in Greece’s GDP, is essential for an economy that has emerged from the decade-long recession that only plunged into recession in 2020 due to the COVID-19.

In a normal year, Rhodes had already laid out umbrellas for the March-October season. In mid-April, it resembled a ghost town.

Luxury resorts with shutters towered over the long, sandy, empty coastline. The beach town, crowded with British tourists, was quiet and lined with shops, taverns and bars.

Only 7.4 million people have visited Greece, less than the year of the decade of economic crisis, and many have been closed since 2020, down from the record 31.3 million in 2019.

From hotels to restaurants to daily cruise boats, many companies that survive with state aid can’t afford another lost summer.

“Most of them feel that the country cannot survive another crisis,” said Constantinos Talasrias, Deputy Mayor of Tourism at Rhodes.

According to the Hotel Association, nearly 600,000 tourists visited Rhodes in 2020, down from 2.3 million in 2019. Over half of the 650 hotels have opened.

Extensive testing

Governor of the Southern Aegean Islands, Greece’s most popular region, George Hatzi Marcos includes the islands of Mykonos and Santorini in addition to Rhodes.

“We are absolutely ready,” said Hatzi Marcos by mid-May.

However, reservations are low, most from August to October, said Rhodes hotel owner Manoris Marco Pros, who expects last-minute bookings for the year.

“Guests really want to fly, so we can understand that,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t get a reservation later.”

Greece was better than most of Europe in containing the first wave of pandemics, but the continued increase in infections led to several blockades aimed at protecting its tense medical services. I did.

Tourists are subject to blockade restrictions, including curfew. Restaurants and bars are closed from November.

Giannis Chalikias, who manages nine businesses on Rhodes, said only one was open and struggling to fulfill the remaining eight obligations.

“We are experiencing an unprecedented situation,” he said.

By Karolina Tagaris