The European nation known for its beaches and sunny weather plans to let tourists back into the country this summer.
Sarajevo – Greece is looking into welcoming tourists this summer with strict social distancing measures in place. Tourism is one of Greece’s most profitable sectors and every year the southeast European nation welcomes millions of tourists hailing from countries across the world.
The impact of COVID-19 on international tourism has been immense, with experts predicting catastrophic consequences on the economies of Medditeranian countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain.
Greek tourism minister Harry Theocharis said the country will open its doors to tourists in the upcoming season.
“We do want people to come to Greece,” Theocharis told BBC Radio. “Of course we will take precautions in terms of the requirements before travelling but also in terms of the way that we travel, the way that we stay. Social distancing rules will apply.”
The minister did not go into the specifics of how the nation plans to impose the restrictions, but offered reassurance to tourists that their safety was being taken seriously.
He also told BBC Radio: “Greece has welcomed tourists for more than 50 years and we want to continue showing the hospitality that we’re very much known for.”
Theocharis emphasized Greece’s “safety’’ and its determination to take strict precautions before allowing holidaymakers back into the country. Coronavirus tests for travelers are not off the table.
Greece was one of the first European countries to impose strict measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. The nation has seen one of the lowest numbers of deaths due to coronavirus in Europe and UK health experts have spoken out in praise of Greece’s approach.
If Greece does not reopen its tourism sector in the summer, many businesses could close due to significant revenue loss. According to a study by the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, up to 65% of Greek hotels face bankruptcy due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Greece itself has suffered one of the worst recessions in Europe. After a decade of financial instability, the nation’s economy showed promising signs of growth in 2019. Greek businesses were starting to recover and the nation was slowly working on getting rid of its massive debt. Tourism was a major component of Greece’s steady recovery, and due to COVID-19 many Greeks are yet again faced with unemployment and uncertainty.
The nation is set to start gradually lifting its coronavirus measures. On May 4 Greek citizens will be able to leave their homes without sending a text message describing their whereabouts. Small retail stores and bookstores will open. Larger stores and restaurants, however, will remain closed.
While many European nations have moved towards reopening their economies after weeks of lockdown, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against premature lifting of restrictions. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on April 27 that the novel coronavirus pandemic is far from over.