GREECE: “Everything is ready”, assured Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the eve of the reopening of the tourist season in Greece, relatively little affected by the coronavirus with 183 dead
Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the emblematic island of Santorini assured on Saturday that Greece could now “welcome tourists” in complete safety after planetary confinement, whose impact on tourism will be “significant”.
“Greek tourism is back,” he insisted, two days before the reopening of the tourist season, before a sublime sunset over one of the most tourist islands in Greece. “Everything is ready,” repeated Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose country was relatively little affected by the new coronavirus with 183 dead.
“Appropriate social distancing rules” are in place for the return of tourists to Greece from about thirty countries by air, sea and land, from Monday. “Our number one priority is the safety and health” of visitors, added the head of government, who opened the season with great fanfare in front of an audience of journalists and members of the government.
“Surviving what will obviously be a difficult summer”
After stopping at Fira hospital, where he again boasted of his government’s “success” in overcoming the first wave of the pandemic, the Prime Minister visited the archaeological site of Akrotiri, welcoming ” the incredibly diverse cultural heritage ”of Greece, of which Santorini is representative.
But in a country where tourism is crucial to the economy, with almost 25% of GDP, he admitted that the “real impact” of confinement on the tourism sector would be “significant”. Kyriakos Mitsotakis acknowledged that “only a fraction” of the 33 million tourists who visited Greece last year will be there this summer. “We will try to save what we can so that our sector remains alive (…) and that we survive what will obviously be a difficult summer,” he said before the press.
“It will all depend on how tourists feel,” said the head of government, but “if we continue on this path, we think we are not taking any risks.” “I am not trying to make Greece the number one destination in Europe, I am trying to make it the safest,” he added.
Towards a lifting of restrictions in July
Only the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki (north) will be reopened for flights on Monday, while regional airports, including that of Santorini, are due to return to service on July 1. Before this date, any passenger who tests positive for Covid-19 must submit to a 14-day isolation period in a hotel at the expense of the Greek State.
Prime Minister hopes to be able to lift “all restrictions” in July and invites visitors to “extend the tourist season”, especially since the Greek weather allows “living outside”, which is less conducive to the transmission of the virus.
Asked about possible new outbreaks of Covid-19 in Greece, he said there was no “safe approach”. “We are taking an extremely calculated risk,” he said, stressing that a new total confinement was not “an option”.