Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said the coronavirus outbreak requires levelheadedness and added that Greece must be ready for all possible scenarios.
“We need to be ready for a possible coronavirus incident. Unfortunately, the virus has spread to a neighbouring country and we need to look at all the parameters and how we can deal with a possible incident, and secondly on how to best address the impact on overall passenger traffic and how much it will affect us,” said Theoharis in an interview to Newsit.gr.
According to Theoharis, so far there have been no booking cancellations for Greece.
Theoharis went on to stress that the ministry was in ongoing communication with health ministry and National Public Health Organization (EODY) officials to ensure flow of information, coordination and readiness.
On its part, the ministry has distributed leaflets with protection guidelines at hotels, restaurants, cafes, on board cruise ships and at main tourism points.
With regard to ministry measures addressing the impact on travel of Covid-19, Theoharis admitted the damage is inevitable, particularly in countries like the US, where people are not very much clear on the differences between Greece and Italy, or Europe, for that matter.
“This is really a big risk. The greatest risk at the moment is in long-haul regions, like the United States… an average American citizen who wishes to book a vacation does not necessarily have to distinguish between Italy and Greece, or Europe as a whole. Which means he may be afraid to come to Europe because of the problem in Italy,” said Theoharis.
“We must focus on the fact that Greece has no coronavirus incidents and communicate this in efforts to possibly recover some lost ground,” he said, adding that Greece has experience after acting quickly and effectively during the SARs epidemic in 2003.
Another step, according to the minister, was reaching out to cruise companies initially programed for Asia, who may now wish to include Greece on their itineraries.