Greece’s tourism industry hopes that overseas lockdowns will continue to ease and flights can begin to pick up shortly.
The government is focusing its efforts on attracting European visitors, and counting on Greece’s success so far in containing the epidemic to reassure visitors that they will be safe.
“This season is not going to be like the other years,” Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis told Reuters.
“I’d be a fool to believe this could ever be the case.”
He said Athens was pushing for common European Union rules on how to keep tourists safe from contagion when they travel: a set of protocols that would mean they needn’t to go into quarantine, either at their destination or when they return home.
And they must be able to unwind at the beach, and not constantly worry whether the person under the sunshade next to them has come from a place with a high infection rate, he said.
Even if there is a big pickup next year, the tourism industry expects it will be years before it generates anything like the 18 billion euros it made last year.
“To be realistic, 2021 will be a year of recovery – but we will not be able to attain the revenue of 2019 before 2023,” said Yiannis Retsos, head of the Greek Tourism Confederation.
Of the 700,000 who worked in the sector last year, many may never get their jobs back.