Greece’s Minister of Tourism Haris Theocharis told the BBC he thinks the country will be open for visitors by July. bulletin about what is going to happen with tourism in Greece this summer. He says countries flattening the coronavirus curve may be ready to travel to Greece by mid-summer, especially if Greece is considered a safe destination. Other experts are far less enthusiastic.
Minister Theoharis told the BBC about how Greece followed aggressively tackled the coronavirus situation early on, and how the government is attempting to “salvage” most of the summer season. He was quoted by Kathimerini as saying:
“We need to aim some time in July to be able to open up. This cannot be with every source country, with every destination, I acknowledge that, but at least we have to try to open with some countries the bilateral communication and travel.”
The National Herald reported this week on hotel owners are still eyeing July as a target to start reopening. But the question remains, as to where tourists to Greece will come from. The key markets of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States seem certain to be out of the picture this year.
The most recent report by the Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation (NSETE), hinted at the grim probability of a lost tourism season for Greece while waxing positive about the potential of the possibility of comparatively higher demand for travel services in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Meanwhile, this Vox report (and many others) says the days of peak travel are gone for good. The central point many experts are making is the far-reaching impacts of what the IMF and other key stakeholders say could be a new Great Depression. Just take a stock market snapshot of any country you can name. The CAC 40 (Cotation Assistée en Continu) is a benchmark French stock market index below reveals the devastation.
Find more statistics at Statista
The bottom line being, people out of work and losing their homes are simply not inclined to take vacations to Greece. To make matters worse, the worldwide travel industry got blindsided by COVID-19. Most of the industry is built around a trouble-free future, wide-open borders, and good times. The industry just never was a conservative or cautious proposition.
Tens of millions of people have lost their jobs. The WTTC says the numbers may reach into the hundreds of millions. The New York Times reported three weeks ago on the unparalleled devastation. Almost overnight the world of travel got transported into Zombieland. The Times story framed it:
“Borders have been shut, planes idled, cruise ships docked, tour buses parked and hotels, restaurants, bars, theaters and museums shuttered. Tourist sites that only several weeks ago were teeming with visitors are now eerily still.”
Those 100 + million unemployed people. That’s just within the tourism industry. The makeup of Greece visitors is not predominantly made up of travel writers our tour guides. The average visitor to Greece stays in a 2 or 3-star hotel, who are the very people who will be hit hardest by the pandemic economic effects. Here in Crete, where the destination has been undersold as a budget vacation spot for years now, budget travelers will be scarce as dinosaurs for the foreseeable future.
To make matters even worse, most travelers headed to Greece pre-book their vacations (over 90%) ahead of time. Add to this the fact that conferences and congresses topped either leisure or business (INSETE 2018) as reasons for visiting Greece, and you begin to see the looming catastrophe.
At the end of the pandemic, we will finally know the short, mid-term, and long-range effects of this crisis. For now, all we know is that the I.M.F. is likening the crisis to the global economic contraction from 1929 to 1932 when world economies shrank approximately 10 percent. Let’s face it, at last please, somebody has to start looking at a worst-case here. Most experts say international travel will not be coming back until there is a vaccine against COVID-19. All this, and much more, make me wonder how anyone could predict a July 2020 date for anything resembling a Greece tourism season.
Health passports, rehashing inbound markets, a host of other strategies may help Greece in the interim, but as best we can all hope for miracles.