Greek expectations modest as tourists trickle back

Greek island resorts are slowly welcoming back tourists after months of closure due to the coronavirus disease, with only a few months of holiday season left. (AFP)
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Updated 04 July 2020

Greek expectations modest as tourists trickle back

  • Greeks are optimistic something can be recovered from the season, banking on the record of Greek authorities in keeping a lid on the outbreak by locking down early

RHODES: Shops shuttered and streets abandoned, the island of Rhodes is pinning its hopes on a trickle of tourists to salvage a holiday season decimated by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

One of Greece’s busiest resort islands, the cobbled streets of the imposing medieval city of Rhodes town were empty this week. At this rate, only a few hotels will open this year, locals say.
“We have never experienced anything like this, not at least for the past 50 to 60 years,” said Manolis Markopoulos, head of the hoteliers association in Rhodes.
Greece opened its regional airports, including in Rhodes, to travelers this week.
At present, only about 20 percent of hotels are open, and the next two weeks will be an important gauge of how the season will perform, Markopoulos said.
“If we show 20-25 percent compared to performance last year that would be a happy outcome,” he said.

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Greece’s tourism sector accounts for a fifth of its economic output and employs 700,000 people.

The picture on nearby Kos was similar, with rows of empty sunloungers distanced to meet rules.
Greeks are optimistic something can be recovered from the season, banking on the record of Greek authorities in keeping a lid on the outbreak by locking down early. It has recorded fewer than 3,500 cases of COVID-19 and 192 deaths.
“It might just be time for Greece to reap returns from its excellent performance in managing the pandemic,” said Konstantina Svinou, head of the Kos hotels association.
Others just want to keep their heads above water. Greece’s tourism sector accounts for a fifth of its economic output and employs 700,000 people.
“We want to believe that even with 30-40 percent occupancy that we will meet some fixed expenses, that staff can get their salaries and pay social insurance to be able to get the unemployment benefit in the winter,” said Hasan Hadji Suleyman, a bar and restaurant owner in Kos.


Airline passengers want to see barriers to boost confidence — industry execs

Updated 27 min 21 sec ago

Airline passengers want to see barriers to boost confidence — industry execs

  • Other pandemic-related trends could include more private business class seating on narrowbody planes
  • Passengers say they do not all trust industry assurances about high air quality onboard

SYDNEY: Airline passengers want visible plastic barriers in the cabin to reinstill confidence in flying during the pandemic, saying they do not all trust industry assurances about high air quality onboard, aviation industry executives said on Thursday.
Other pandemic-related trends could include more private business class seating on narrowbody planes, adding touchless lavatory features and permanent conversions of passenger planes to freighters, according to a panel at the MRO Asia-Pacific conference held online.
Embraer SA is studying reusable and disposable plastic barriers for its regional jets, but challenges include making sure they are lightweight, not flammable and do not affect aircraft cleaning and evacuation, said Lais Port Antunes, a business development manager in the planemaker’s Asia-Pacific division.
“Modern aircraft are already equipped with excellent technology to filter the air,” she said. “The passengers should feel safe in an aircraft cabin, but they need to see actions.”
Tan Hean Seng, a senior executive at Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd, said airline customers, fearing cost increases, did not seem interested putting fewer seats in economy class. But, he added, the airline still needed to reassure them about risk.
“Having a shield between the seats, the passengers may feel safer, especially during mealtimes when passengers take off masks and there is potential contamination,” Tan said, adding his company had developed a prototype.
In business class, airlines are already expressing more interest in lie-flat seating options as they look to use narrowbody planes on longer routes, Boeing Co. Vice President of Specialty Products and Services Kate Schaefer said.
“There is an awful lot of interest in those premium passengers in having a pod-type solution,” she said. “There is going to be a lot of interest in pods, doors and staggered seating.”