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Tornos news | Media report: Greeks welcome return of tourists again

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During the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it looked like it would never happen, but tourists from most countries are now allowed to enter Greece, which has relaxed health measures, and damn it , they always flow.

In a report, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper noted that arrivals are coming earlier than expected, with spring arriving after a cold delay, Athens’ tourist areas bustling and archaeological sites and islands filling up.

And after being shut out since 2019, people are sitting together and eating again in restaurants, which are near capacity in popular areas, and no sign that those who are not unvaccinated are being checked despite a requirement.

“It may be April, but Athens is bustling with the noise of tourists,” wrote the paper’s longtime correspondent Helena Smith, who knows more about the country than many locals.

A worker, Stelios Ballas, who continues to watch over the 1st century BC ruins at the Roman Agora, is now in his 50s and said he doesn’t remember so many people coming so soon and the place be so busy.

“The last few weeks have been something else,” he said from his guard’s cabin. “I talk to some of them and they seem to come from all over. The point is, they have the money and are they willing to spend it? »

These are eateries, especially in the Plaka section of Athens, the capital’s oldest commercial spot and a tourist magnet filled with curio shops and Greek favorite hawkers.

More than 33 million people – three times the country’s population – came in the record year of 2019 which now seems like distant memories where people let the good times roll, without masks, vaccines and social distancing.

“If it continues like this, we’ll be talking about a brilliant year,” said Vassilis Stathokostopoulos, who runs the newly renovated all-day bistro Ydria. “People don’t just come, it’s clear that after everything we’ve all been through, they want to have a good time. And for that, they are ready to dig deep into their pockets,” he said. And indeed they are.

This is what Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his New Democracy government are counting on in the hope of accelerating recovery from the forgotten pandemic despite dozens of deaths a day, from seasoned people to tragedies.

Tourism is the country’s main revenue driver, accounted for nearly a million workers at its peak, and contributes up to 18-20% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of 185.47 billion euros (200. $3 billion).

Greece is seen as perhaps the most sought-after tourist stop on the planet this year and big luxury resorts are springing up like crocuses in spring, catering to the super-rich who want all their needs met immediately.

CHANGE OF SIGNS

It comes about 12 years after a brutal economic crisis, requiring 326 billion euros ($352.06 billion) that will take decades to repay and accompanied by harsh austerity measures targeting workers, pensioners and poor people.

Then came COVID.

Like a specter in the night, he fell upon the world with a shroud of fear and death, blocked international travel and made it seem like no one would come for years, and spirits sank.

The record tourism year of 2019 brought in 18.2 billion euros ($19.65 billion) in revenue, but that fell off a cliff the following year to just 4 billion euros ($4.32 billion) and 10 billion euros ($10.8 billion) in 2021.

Not even rampant inflation and the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which saw the European Union ban Russian airlines and tourists, is clouding people’s minds, people are mad to be happy again after seeing so much unhappiness.

Cruise ships will also dock in greater numbers, with Chinese management company COSCO making the port of Piraeus one of Europe’s busiest and the country’s largest ferry docking point.

“All the omens look positive,” Andreas Andreadis, former tourism boss and managing director of the phenomenally successful Sani/Ikos luxury resort group, told the Big Comeback newspaper.

“For a few weeks after the start of the war in Ukraine, demand fell, but since the end of March it picked up and is now excellent,” he said, although the boom could be better. if so many people were still not afraid to travel. , he said.

The Greek government has said that from May 1 it will not even require arrivals to have an EU Green Pass digital certificate and masks are coming off almost everywhere – they already are – from June 1.

“The season has started earlier than ever,” Tourism Minister Vasilis Kikilias said, and more major US airlines are now offering direct flights to Athens. “It’s a vote of confidence in our country,” he said.

He also said 765 cruise ships are lined up to anchor in ports across the country, with popular island destinations such as Mykonos, Kos and Corfu already drawing crowds.

Eugenios Vasilikos, vice-president of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers, told the newspaper: “It is a fact confirmed by all the studies that people do not just want to travel, they need to travel. All signs indicate that it will be a very good year. It will probably depend on whether there are any other surprises.

Read more on thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, The Greek Islands, Hotels in Greece, Trip to Greece, Greek destinations, Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report

Image source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright : Mstyslav Chernov