Most Greeks who have endured months of blockade will agree with this feeling, said Ms. Naku, an analyst. “I think there is little alternative, to be honest, given the importance of the sector in the economy,” she said.
But Ms Nakou noted that the number of Covid cases has increased since the country opened to tourists last summer, and that many Greeks have linked the arrival of visitors to an increase in the circulation of the virus. She noted that in a survey conducted among Greeks last fall, tourism was the most frequently cited factor in causing the second wave before people violated blocking rules, as well as congestion on public transport or restaurants.
In terms of daily new infections, the worst moment of the pandemic in Greece occurred in early April this year, when the country averaged more than 3,000 cases a day; intensive care intake peaked about two weeks later. Based on per capita, Greece’s experience is fading compared to the worst moments of the pandemic in the United States, Britain, France or Italy, but as Greece’s medical system suffers from years of underfunding, it is particularly vulnerable to tensions. As of April 21, the country’s intensive care units were 87 percent full, although locking measures had to be lifted.
At the same time, vaccination is intensifying. Just over 20 percent of the country’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of April. The reach is much larger on some of the Greek islands that were targeted at the start of the country’s vaccination campaign, in part due to their geographical isolation and limited medical facilities. But local leaders also hope the image of highly vaccinated islands without code will help attract tourists back.
“This is a very important step that guarantees the start of the tourist season and sends a message of optimism,” Effi Liarrou, the mayor of Elafonisos, told Agence-France Presse last month.
No matter how many people travel to Greece this summer, it is clear that this year’s peak tourist season will not be like any other.