Many Americans, though mostly those with Greek roots – many of whom do not have Greek passports – are confused and frustrated by the ban forbidding them from traveling to Greece this summer, at least for the time being.
Some try to explain that the restriction is of a medical and not of a political nature. It is not aimed against the United States or its president – even though there are some who think so – but is the result of the continued rise of coronavirus infections in that country.
It is also the result of the confused American response to the pandemic, which has made Greece and other European countries hesitate to open their borders to tourists from the United States, much as they’d like to.
The message “Enjoy your stay – stay safe” demonstrates the importance being placed on safeguarding public health. It is also important because foreign media are keeping a close eye on developments in Greece with regards to tourism.
Despite the positive messages being sent out by the Greek government about the tourism season, limited bookings are causing concern. Many are also uncertain, as they can be canceled at the last minute, at no charge to travelers.
The American tourist market – which includes thousands of Greek Americans who come every summer not only headed for the country’s famous islands, but also lesser-known, ancestral destinations, giving these areas a much-needed economic boost – is an important source of revenue for Greece.
America comes third after Germany and Britain in the list of the most important markets for Greek tourism. A nonscientific analysis of the tourist market shows that Americans bring the most benefits per person. Around a million people travel from the US to Greece every year, injecting around a billion euros into the economy, meaning around 1,000 euros for each arrival.
In comparison, Germans spend 700 euros per person (some 4.3 million visitors come in total, spending 3 billion euros), while for Britons this is 650 euros (3 million tourists who spend 2 billion euros).
Hence, even from a purely financial point of view, the ban on tourism from the US is an even heavier blow.
In any case, it might be useful at this point to launch an information campaign on Greece that targets Americans, and especially those of Greek descent, to calm the frustration and avert the emergence of any unnecessary negative feelings, which would certainly be detrimental.