The Greek tourist industry is facing an unprecedented crisis in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and is set to lose at least fifty percent of its revenue in 2020, Grigoris Tasios, President of the Greek Hoteliers Association, said on Thursday.
Speaking to Greek Reporter, Tasios said according to an optimistic scenario the tourist season will begin on July 1, months later than usual, knocking off almost 10 billion euros from tourist receipts this year.
“It is very difficult to plan ahead during these times, simply because we do not know how long the coronavirus scare will last. We hope to launch the Greek tourist season on July 1, but this is speculative, since everything will depend on how the virus situation will unfold,” he said.
According to Tasios, only about 300 hotels are currently open in the entire nation of Greece right now, and even those are operating under strict conditions. Thousands remain shuttered, as the country has imposed draconian coronavirus relief measures since mid-March.
“We really do not know how many will be in a position to reopen when the situation becomes normal again,” the hotel association president says, noting that hoteliers up and down the country basically have zero income right now.
“We are monitoring developments in the pandemic on a day-to-day basis, not just in Greece but throughout the world, and in particular, in the countries that are tourist markets for Greece,” Tasios says. He then adds that the number of arrivals from Greece’s traditional markets will probably be far lower than that of previous years.
“I think that the situation in Germany, UK, France, Poland and maybe Russia, countries that are among the top five tourism markets for Greece, does not allow much optimism about a quick rebound in visitors,” he explains.
Tasios hopes that visitors from the Balkan countries, where the numbers of coronavirus cases are much lower than the rest of Europe, could play some role in reducing the economic damage.
Foreign vacationers who are still expected to travel to Greece in some numbers are from countries that have performed rather well in tackling the pandemic, including Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon and some other Arab states.
“The next day for the Greek tourist industry will be very difficult and that’s why we call upon the banking sector and the government to help ride the wave,” Tasios states.
Among proposals brought before the authorities are the restructuring of hotel debts and the easing of borrowing and low-interest rate loans, as well as employment subsidies from the government, Tasios told Greek Reporter.
Speaking earlier, the head of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Yiannis Retsos said that in order for the state-support effort to have any success, it will need to secure and strengthen the competitiveness of Greek tourism.
He associated this 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.