Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis met with Crete Governor Stavros Arnaoutakis on Friday to implore Crete officials to get vaccinated. The story via Kathimerini said Theoharis is counting on vaccination coverage against the coronavirus as the only way to “ensure that the country can remain open and its tourism industry stays healthy.” I have something else to add, tourism numbers are the least thing we should worry about.
“I am asking all of you to get vaccinated – if you have not already done so – as the vaccines are the sole passport to increasing jobs and strengthening tourism flows. They are the only passport to keep our country open and the tourism product of Greece in good health.” – Harry Theoharis
Theoharis was quoted saying at a meetup of tourism association reps. He went on to say vaccination is our duty, and that we must set an unwavering path to “continue on this path, with the gates of tourism open but also with safety.”
The tourism minister went on to talk about tourism being victorious, the numbers, and new marinas that will bring even more tourists in the years to come. Excuse me, but I take issue with these politicians. What ever happened to proper behavior and humility where sensitivity is needed? Nowhere in all of Theoharis’ blabbering can anyone find even a fake moment of caring for the loss of life so far. All this man talks about is money. All the government seems to care about is money. Every step these nincompoops take, leaves a slimy trail of money, revenue, profit, or whatever you choose to call the complete callousness with which these people discuss human beings.
SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance President Alexis Tsipras, Mitsotakis’ strongest competition, went official saying the current prime minister made a huge mistake dividing the country instead of uniting people against COVID. The former Prime Minister went on to outline the key mistakes Mitsotakis has made:
“If anyone is guilty of sabotaging health, then it is him. For a year and a half now, he has not hired a single permanent doctor, he has abandoned the national health system to its fate and left healthcare staff to face the pandemic on the frontline in very harsh conditions without support.”
The fact is, Mitsotakis took license to try and ramrod the economy ahead of public health from the onset. It was almost as if the potential of the vaccines washed COVID out of their brains, and the only real stimulus going forward was getting EU funds and pumping up tourism volumes in spite of the dangers. I harped on this endlessly these last few months, but the idiocy continued. Greece needed one hell of a lot less tourism marketing, and one hell of a lot more health emergency campaigning. These people never seemed to take the pandemic seriously. Heraklion Parliamentarian Nikos Igoumenidis amplified Tsipras’ remarks saying Mitsotakis’ team had sewed distrust of the system from the start by not organizing properly, the COVID response. The Heraklion cardiologist said:
“Mr. Mitsotakis failed to build a common front and a climate of trust as he should have. All the images of citizens protesting against the vaccine and the measures announced by Mr. Mitsotakis in his sermon, all these manifestations of unscientific obscurantism embody the failure of the current Government.”
As for Theoharis, he met on Thursday with Heraklion Mayor Vassilis Lambrinos on Thursday, who unveiled (finally) an promotional video produced to help people understand the need to get the jab. No educational or motivational effort like this has been undertaken in the long months since the COVID vaccines came out. As for Heraklion’s video, there is no educational aspect, no great motivational pitch, just some people raising their sleeves to ostensibly get a shot. I know somebody at the municipality thinks this is a kind of creative genius, but with people sick and dying for over a year now, it seems to me officials could go one better.
Here in Heraklion, there are no posters, there is no Facebook campaign, no Instagram or Twitter tweet helping young or old people understand these vaccines. At least, no congruent message has been sent in the more than a year COVID has racked Greece. Instead, the constant drum of tourism possibility, economics, and tourist campaign after tourist campaign has dominated the news space.
Theoharis met with these officials including Hersonissos mayor Ioannis Segos to discuss ways to utilize Greece 2.0 recovery funds. And I suspect this was the only reason the New Democracy politician came to Crete. The vested interests have to figure out what to do with those billions, and who gets what. Sorry, but if they can discuss economics and ignore the sick and dying who suffer because of mediocre leadership, I feel justified questioning exactly what it is these people are doing.
A few days ago Greek Reporter ran the story of 80% of COVID cases on Crete being of the Delta variant. The situation on Mykonos and other islands has gotten so bad the Greek Coast Guard was called in to check ferry passengers to ensure procedures are being carried out. Theoharis and other officials gave assurances that Greece is safe for weeks now, but Coast Guard officers preventing some 2500 people from getting on ferry boats because they didn’t have proof of being vaccinated or free of the Coronavirus testifies to another reality.
The ferryboat crews were previously in charge of testing passengers, which probably explains why as many as one in ten party animals on Mykonos were found to be carrying COVID-19 recently. Ironically, or I should say sadly, the very islands that Greek officials prioritized for vaccines are the places being hit hardest by the Delta variant now. Soon, experts say, 80% of all Greek COVID infections will be from the more deadly variant.
Theoharis and the other Athens officials are scrambling now in the hope of keeping their “strategies” from blowing up in their faces. If New Democracy does not go down to a snap vote soon, I will be greatly surprised. None of this loss was necessary. Thousands lost their lives, tens of thousands more lost jobs or their businesses because the public was never brought into this emergency. I have many friends whose businesses are now shuttered forever because Greek politicians remain the puppets of corporate greed the world portrays them as.