As Greece prepares to welcome tourists after a temporary shutdown, certain islands could be excluded from flight schedules as airlines start to operate a reduced service. A lack of accessibility to certain islands will be damaging for local businesses in the retail, tourism and hospitality industries, in addition to the previous three-month shutdown of the tourism industry.
Major European airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair recently announced plans to resume its flying schedule- but only less than half of it. This will result in some destinations being left out to concentrate on popular, profit making routes.
Inbound tourism is a vital pillar for the Greek economy, as many of the islands rely heavily on visitors all year round, especially in the upcoming summer months. In 2018, Greece welcomed 6.2 million visitors from its main source markets – Germany and the United Kingdom, showing how European based airlines are important for the success of Greece and its islands as destinations.
Some Greek islands have gone from ‘overtourism’ problems to no tourism problems. Whilst previously the nature and tranquility of some Greek islands were being ruined by tourists, now they are too quiet, with no visitors providing any income for business owners. Whilst less tourists may be desired, this is not a viable option for the longevity of the islands as tourist destinations.
While flights to the capital and popular Greek Islands have resumed, islands which are known for their remote and tranquil nature have not – or in some cases have, but at a reduced frequency. This reduces access to these popular attractions. Ferry services in and around the islands are also impacted by COVID-19, where operation is at 50% capacity, with thermal screening and a health certificate required to travel by ferry.
Alongside this, cruises are not currently sailing and stopping at any Greek islands, eradicating a number of daytime visitors and revenue streams in already affected industries. Cruises also provide inspiration for repeat trips, which ensure a continuous revenue stream that could be jeopardized if access to these islands is limited.