It should come as no surprise that Greece is the top destination for TUI holidaymakers this summer. According to a report from Tornos News, last-minute bookings spurred on TUI’s effort to rescue summer 2020. But will Greece need rescuing from TUI and the other corporate entities pushing the “do or die” tourism redux? But before I begin:
“Large corporations welcome innovation and individualism in the same way the dinosaurs welcomed large meteors.” – Scott Adams, Dilbert
TUI reports that traditional destinations like Crete, Rhodes, and Kos islands were again favorites of TUI clients. The chief of TUI Destination Experiences in Greece George Dimas laid out the findings before attendees of an FVW workshop organized in Thessaloniki and Halkidiki, where representatives of 40 leading tour operators and agents in Germany gathered. Several hotels, from the ones that have opened this year, have reservations for October as well. The workshop was powered by Sonar Acoustics Audiovisual (Instagram below).
Also cited was the head of Greece-Cyprus destinations of FTI Group Mrs. Halina Strzyzewska, who said that Greece and Cyprus are the only destinations that are currently in demand. She also said that if the current trend continues, bookings will be higher than last year. According to Strzyzewska, demand for small islands is limited due to the lack of air connections and many closed hotels.
On the political and lobbying side of this affair, TUI is pulling out all the stops in order to pad its bottom line. In Thessaloniki, the GNTO was there, as were many key decision-makers in the government and private sector. The problem, however, is an obvious one to everybody except officials, tour operators, and hoteliers. Swining open wide the doors of tourism as caused a Greeks to lose focus on protective measures. COVID-19 is surging, and people here in Greece watch as tourists walk about freely, while the locals are being asked to wear masks and to take care. The bottom line, is, it’s just now happening.
Over the weekend I was in several locations across Crete, and the adherence to coronavirus measures now is at beast lacidasical. The best time to catch somebody in Heraklion wearing a mask, is to walk your dog early in the morning before the school bell rings. Mothers donning their masks, alongside their children, on the way to and from school.
Check out any restaurant, public mall, park, or any other gathering place, and the story is much different. The same kids who wore their masks going to school, are out in the park after dark without them. And this shunning of responsibility and caring is not the public’s fault. Currently, on Crete, there are 465 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Before the restart of tourism, there were less than 10 that we knew of.
TUI and the officials in Athens surely never bothered to consider the negative effects of inviting thousands of tourists. The example TUI and the hotels have set, it’s horrendous, uncaring, and dangerous.
Dimitris Fragakis, Secretary-General of the GNTO, even went so far as to proclaim that Greece has already won over the coronavirus. With an imminent second lockdown in the offing, the Greek administration seems to be on an “all or nothing” course for disaster. And we thought Donald Trump’s bad example was just about a bad US president. The ripple effect is amplified by corporations and big businesses could spell catastrophe.
The FVW headlines contribute – “Extended summer offers and lower prices in 2021.” And of course, ad space in any of FVW’s publications is so limited. A half-page ad in TravelTalk Magazine, for instance, goes for €6,150. Not many people realize, but FVW is a subsidiary of the gigantic conglomerate dfw media group (Deutscher Fachverlag GmbH), which influences sector from agriculture to law and environmentalism.
TUI is advertising to UK travelers on Google for Greece Holidays from £137 pp. In Rethymno, here on Crete, UK travelers can stay at the Aquila Rithymna Beach resort for a week, at half board, flight and all, for £267 pp. I am so tempted to book a room there to report on how any hotelier can make a profit like this. I shudder to think how Rethymno, Crete, or Greece will profit from such tourism.
I leave you with a quote from the great C.S. Lewis and his The Screwtape Letters;
“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of “Admin.” The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”