Greek hotels reopen to an uncertain future

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece allowed year-round hotels to open on Monday, restarting its vital tourism sector hobbled by weeks of lockdown, although business remained quiet with international flights from its main airports only set to resume from June 15.

With borders also still shut in key tourism markets, some hotels have pushed back their openings due to low reservations.

“We got our jobs back, but there is stress and uncertainty over the future,” Spyros Divanis, managing director of Divani Hotels, told Reuters.

Only one seaside hotel in Athens of seven hotels in the chain opened on Monday. The rest will open depending on bookings, he said.

Greece, which emerged from international bailout programmes in 2018, is banking on the lure of its rich culture and stunning landscapes for an economic recovery. Tourism accounts for about 20% of national output.

Having contained the spread of COVID-19 better than many European Union countries, Greece has been easing restrictions since May.

Year-round hotels also rely on conferences, which have switched to the internet since the health crisis erupted, and on cruise shipping, which is not expected to resume anytime soon.

The central Athens King George hotel and the historic Grande Bretagne, which has survived wars and hosted kings and queens, political leaders and celebrities over its 148-year history, will open at the end of June or early July, their director said.

“It will definitely be a tough summer, but we are here to restart tourism, to help the economy,” said Greek Chamber of Hotels’ Vice President Christina Tetradis.

Reporting and photo: Reuters

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