And finally, here it is, the insane writing on the wall. Those in charge of tourism in Greece, are also in charge of who lives and who dies of COVID-19 in the country. A new Guardian story reveals Greek officials promising 69 Aegean islands complete immunization, while residents all over the country perish scared, alone, and nearly forgotten exepct by caregivers and family.
This is the toughest report I have ever written, and I have written over 100,000 in the last twenty years. In my previous criticisms of the Greek vaccination policy, I have outlined how the government incorrectly prioritized this pandemic response after an initial proactive success to COVID-19. I’ve brought to light the undue influence of TUI and other corporations on officials and stakeholders.
I’ve revealed a sideways view of the effects of reopening tourism too soon, and how the public was made vulnerable because of the unseemly and unwise reopening of tourism last summer. I’ve shown time and again the other side of marketing and PR campaigning which has created a kind of perfect storm, a situation where catastrophe looms darker because of overconfidence, undue optimism, and advertising that is unrealistic and even dangerous. They’ve even codenamed the vaccination program “Freedom” as if NATO forces were conducting some anti-ISIS mission.
So, today I feel ghastly hopelessness in reporting these same influences guaranteeing safe islands, while at the same time condemning perhaps hundreds to death for the sake of tourism euros. This statement from Marios Themistocleous of the health ministry reveals the insanity, the obtuseness, and the flipside of caring:
“We have so many smaller isles. Precisely because they’re so difficult to get supplies to, we decided to vaccinate entire populations in one go with the aim that when they begin receiving tourists, permanent residents are fully vaccinated and protected.”
The story calls the initiative “one of the biggest operational challenges of modern times.” Or, making more grandiose a scheme by authorities who have vowed at least 69 islands will be fully vaccinated by the end of April.” I feel it necessary to take note, that Greece is far behind even some less developed countries in immunizing her population. Currently, Morocco has fully immunized seven times more residents than Greece. Serbia, Argentina, Poland, and a host of other nations are ahead as well. And most of these countries have nowhere near as much tourism PR going on.
The Greek armed forces will assist, in delivering, and I quote, “thousands of vaccines to far-flung isles.” Reading this, and having been criticized by tourism executives for my negativity, I wonder if I am the only one who understands what this means? Thousands of old people and people at risk, are still at risk, in difference to people on islands the coronavirus might never reach, if hoteliers and cruise ship operators did not need money fast! Meanwhile, in the last 24 hours 3,228 more people came down with COVID-19, and 73 more people died. Those 73, could have been given the COVID-19 vaccines that went to remote islanders, and without the help of the Greek military helicopters and ships. Just to make my point clear.
Somebody is dying right now. Let me say this again. Somebody is dying right now, and because some obtuse, soulless, bean-counting nincompoop in Athens caved in to this draconian plan to reboot tourism before saving the lives of the defenseless. I cannot be wrong in this. This is how we were all taught as children. Unless our parents were Hitlers or Hollywood supervillains. Thousands of people will be immunized in places that are already safe because of their remoteness. And thousands will not be vaccinated where COVID is rampaging unchecked. How can this even be considered sane?
What a sad state of affairs. I am worried for the future, as I never was before. And that’s all the travel news from Greece today.