The Greek Plan To Bring Tourists Back

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The Greek Plan To Bring Tourists Back

Saturday in Glyfada, south of Athens, Zisimos Zizos is surveying a sandy beach. With remote control in hand, he sends a powerful drone soaring high into the sky. Using the drone’s camera, he scans the beach and spots a group of young people sitting together on towels.

The drone hovers above them, then drops down as a message booms from its speakers: “We keep our distance. We respect public health.” Some of the young people look up at the drone and wave. Others just look away. One by one, they slowly peel away from the group.

“On the busy days, I’ll be out here checking on things every few hours,” says Zizos. He works for the municipality as a photographer, but since the coronavirus hit he’s swapped his camera for the drone. His job is to prevent large gatherings on the beach to reduce the spread of Covid-19. If beachgoers ignore his call to disperse, the municipal police step in and can impose fines of up 1,000 euros ($1,120, £894) per person.

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The municipal drone, previously used for search and rescue efforts, is now being used for another salvage operation: the resurrection of the tourism sector. Lockdowns around the world have brought the global travel industry to a standstill. This is particularly bad news for Greece, where tourism accounts for more than 20% of GDP. Some 33 million people visited in 2019, generating tourism revenue of 19bn euros. Understandably, Greece is desperate to get its hospitality business up and running again.

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In a bid to get the sector moving, the government has put together an ambitious plan aimed at attracting tourists while keeping coronavirus cases low. So far, Greece has weathered the pandemic comparatively well, with around 3,000 confirmed cases and fewer than 200 deaths. Local officials attribute this to the strict lockdown introduced very early in the outbreak.

The Greek Plan To Bring Tourists Back

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