Greek tourism operators see massive drop in 2020 arrivals
ATHENS, Greece – Greek tourism operators on Thursday, May 21, said they expect a 70% drop in arrivals this year after the government announced the season could restart in mid-June.
"Arrivals will be down by at least 70%," Greek hoteliers chief Grigoris Tasios told SKAI TV, adding that a "maximum" of 8 to 9 million visitors could be expected.
Irini Toliou, head of the Greek association of congress organizers, agreed with the estimate.
"We have July to September left to work, provided [the virus] does not return in September," she told state TV ERT.
According to Bank of Greece figures, the country in 2019 had over 34 million visitors producing revenue of over 18 billion euros ($20 billion).
The government on Wednesday, May 20, said the tourism period would begin on June 15 with the first resumption of international flights through Athens airport.
Direct flights to the Greek islands will begin July 1.
Restaurants and bars are scheduled to reopen on Monday, May 25, after open-air archaeological sites opened this week. Museums are to reopen on June 15.
With Greece suffering fewer than 170 COVID-19 deaths over two months into the pandemic, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday said Athens' prompt response to the virus would be a "passport of safety, credibility, and health" to attract visitors.
Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis has said a list of nations resuming flights to Greece would be announced by the end of May, with a focus on reviving a travel front "from the Balkans to the Baltic."
Bulgarians and northern Europeans including Germans will be among the first visitors, the minister said, in addition to Israelis and Cypriots.
Incoming travelers will not be required to undergo virus testing or quarantine, but sample tests will be carried out in tourist areas for epidemiological purposes, the tourism minister said on Wednesday.
Still recovering from a decade-long debt crisis, Greece badly needs tourism income that directly and indirectly accounts for over a fifth of the economy.
Many operators have expressed skepticism about reopening owing to strict spacing rules. – Rappler.com