Some hotels could gradually start opening in June, though with health protocols that remain to be determined, the head of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) estimated on Tuesday.
Yiannis Retsos stressed that this was his personal view, before adding that the markets from which most foreign holidaymakers are expected to travel to Greece are countries that have performed rather well in tackling the Covid-19 epidemic, such as Israel, Cyprus, the Balkan states, Lebanon and some other Arabic states.
He also argued that the effort to restart Greek tourism will begin halfway through the third quarter of the year – i.e. in August – and will not be back up and running normally before September. As a result, a number of seasonal hotels are not expected to open at all this year, and Retsos pointed out that worker support measures will need to be expanded, along with additional financing with working capital of 1.5-2 billion euros.
For the support effort to have any success, said Retsos, it will need to secure and strengthen the competitiveness of Greek tourism, which the SETE head associated with tools such as the reduction of value-added tax rates across the sector (hotels, air travel, coastal shipping etc), the abolition of the overnight tax, and targeted promotional activities such as the online platform “Greece From Home,” launched recently by the Tourism Ministry, the Greek Tourism Organization and Marketing Greece.
In any case, Retsos said he was unable to estimate what share of last year’s tourism revenues of 18 billion euros could be repeated in 2020. He only said that “in the first couple of month we had revenues of 1.7 billion, so there’s quite some distance to cover before reaching 18 billion euros.”
As for safeguarding the health of visitors, the SETE chief said discussions have advanced on the possibility of mass tests for visitors, possibly at their departure airports. He added that once the government has completed its consultations with scientists, it will be seen whether a health certificate would be needed for destinations as well as visitors and what that would entail.