ATHENS – They don’t come in large numbers like before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but Americans are still flocking to Greece for summer vacation – despite a brutal heat wave and US warnings that the country does not is not safe due to a rebound from COVID-19.
Temperatures at one point in parts of the country reached over 116 degrees before dropping, but in the middle there were more than 100 fires, including several north of Athens that forced evacuations.
Athens was covered in white soot and haze, the smell of smoke so intense and the danger to the respiratory system so high that people were warned to stay indoors or wear surgical grade N95 masks – in abundance because of the pandemic – if they ventured outside.
More than 125,000 travelers from the United States had come after the doors opened to safe travelers in July, those with proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test or proof of having recovered from the coronavirus.
They have been a boon to tourism industries, especially hotels and restaurants starving for customers, although a resurgence of COVID due to unvaccinated people – including tourism workers on the islands – has resulted in a setback.
The heat wave was the worst in 34 years, although air conditioning was not readily available in 1987 when the record heat killed nearly 1,000 people – and now due to the load on the power grid, people have been advised to maintain higher temperatures in their homes even with A / C.
Tourism is Greece’s main income driver, bringing in up to 18-20% of the annual gross domestic product (GDP) of â¬ 169.62 billion ($ 200.3) and employing nearly a million people in the record years shattered in 2020 by the pandemic.
There was a record 33 million people who came in 2019, spending some $ 45 billion, but the New Democracy government had hoped for half this year before the Delta variant hit and vaccinations took hold. delay, and are not made mandatory.
In an article, CNN noted that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on August 3 added Greece, along with 15 other countries, to its “very high” COVID travel list as too risky to visit, but they are yet to come.
The same goes for people from other countries including the UK who have also advised that Greece is not a safe country which does not deter many Brits.
Lucy Thackray, a visitor from London to Lefkada, one of the Ionian islands off the west coast of mainland Greece, had suspended plans for visits “to stand in the pool with a frozen drink”, due to temperatures scorching.
âI took two boats to some pretty beaches, but I don’t do any sightseeing that isn’t adjacent to the water,â she said. âI wouldn’t hike or roam the cities. It’s really too hot to do things – even at night it’s very hot.â
JT Genter, a digital nomad from the United States who joined those moving to Greece because they can work anywhere in the world, said it was too hot to do almost anything, temperatures above 100 degrees when he and his wife arrived.
âWe went to the Acropolis at noon, bought our tickets online according to the signage and walked to the open doors, only to be told they were closed until 5 pm,â he said. said, but it was worth braving the heat. Many Americans agree.