Coronavirus: Greece is officially open up — but will the holidaymakers arrive? | DW Journey | DW

With only 7.4 million website visitors final year — when compared to 34 million in 2019 — Greece is desperate to restart tourism, but on Might 14, the initially working day of the country’s official opening to international guests who have proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or a adverse COVID-19 PCR take a look at, below on Crete it’s difficult to see the big difference. 

In spite of fantastic blue skies, balmy waters and temperatures of 27 levels Celsius (80 levels Fahrenheit), the island’s golden-sand seashores are practically deserted, many cafes are shuttered and a lot of lodges and resorts are closed. “It is really ridiculous — there’s no a single listed here. Normally, we open up just following Easter and the streets are whole of young ones on quad bikes, but this yr it would not be well worth opening till June,” suggests Sofokleos, who owns George’s bistro in the island’s infamous occasion town of Malia. 

Greece opened for tourism on May 14

Giorgos Kaloutsakis, proprietor of luxurious hotel Abaton Island in the — commonly lively — resort of Hersonissos, agrees. “We are waiting around to open later in the month, on the 28th of May possibly. It costs a great deal of revenue to open a vacation resort like this, so we need to have to be confident of bookings to start with,” he states.

Companies battling to open up

In accordance to a recent report by the Bank of Greece, the country’s banks have the highest amount of non-undertaking loans in the European Union, with NPLs accounting for 30.2% of their portfolios, which is additional than 10 instances the EU typical. Tourism employs one particular in five of the country’s workforce, but the figure is far more like one particular in two in this article on Greece’s megalo nisi (large island), which has been terribly afflicted by the reduction of site visitors.

“A lot of corporations are crippled with personal debt, and lots of employees in other accommodations have shed their work. Even here we have been working with a skeleton staff all winter. Now tourism is starting yet again but numerous of the more compact inns will be unable to open up due to the fact it prices also significantly revenue,” suggests Evgenia Chasapidou, supervisor of Capsis Astoria, one of the number of town lodges that stayed open in the course of lockdown. 

Leonidas Aretakis, who owns The Home, a boho bistro around Heraklion’s Lion’s Sq. suggests that restaurants have also been poorly strike by the disaster. “I only opened this restaurant a yr back and it is really been shut for the earlier 8 months. Now I’m open up, but though I have 34 tables I

can only provide to the 7 that are out in the courtyard. I am going to nonetheless have to pay all the bills, even though — it really is quite tough,” he says.

Masked passengers at the Heraklion airport.

Some visitors are already arriving on Greek islands

Slow vaccine rollout, but Germans nonetheless eager to travel

With all-around 1,500 new circumstances of COVID-19 for each working day and a single of the slowest vaccination rollouts in the EU — which has been even further hampered by thrombosis fears connected to the AstraZeneca jab — the Greek small business house owners are having difficulties to influence holidaymakers that it is really harmless to travel.

“I feel it will not be an uncomplicated period for us right here in Crete,” states Evgenia Chasapidou. “So considerably all the bookings are last minute. Folks all want to be vaccinated prior to journey — to feel harmless.” 

Frenchman Patrice Lamouroux, who moved to Greece a number of months back to “escape” lockdown in France, suggests that most of his friends are scared to vacation anywhere, allow by itself Greece. “There is certainly been so much talk of the new strains of the virus. I retain telling them Crete is protected — we’ve experienced reasonably couple of cases — but they just will never imagine me,” he suggests.

In a bid to reassure vacationers that Greece is, without a doubt, a protected vacation spot, Mitsotakis not too long ago launched Operation Blue Independence, a marketing campaign that aims to vaccinate all of the country’s islands — which includes the well-liked resorts of Crete, Rhode, Corfu and Santorini — by early June. “I want to send out the distinct concept: Greece is open yet again,” Greece’s key minister said.

Visitors wearing masks at the Parthenon Museum in Athens.

Museums have also reopened in Greece

In a big improve for Greek tourism, last week Germany declared that guests to Greece who have absolutely vaccinated or have a unfavorable COVID examination or a certification of full recovery from the condition will no more time have to quarantine on their return from family vacation.

Vacation organization TUI, which will be sending at the very least 120 flights to Greek places this month, is also convinced that Greece will be a top destination for Germans this summer season — and Crete is touted to be their favorite island. “After the borders open up, common motels will fill bookings quickly,” reported TUI’s Germany CEO Marek Andryszak.

Santorini, one of the most visited Greek Islands

Santorini, a single of the most frequented Greek Islands

Celebrating the conclude of lockdown

Despite the reality that there are extremely few travellers on the streets of the island’s money, Heraklion, you can find an air of rejoicing as locals crowd into the shops, cafes and tavernas that have been shut for earlier six months.

“For a while, we could only travel two kilometers from our houses and only with a textual content concept to the governing administration and curfew was at 6 p.m. — it was too substantially!” suggests Giorgos Terizakis, Capsis Astoria’s restaurant supervisor. “We are so drained following so many months of lockdown we just want to dwell once again.”


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