New coronavirus rules in Tourism. (written by a professor at The Ionian University)


Will tourism recover?

Talking about tourism forecasts in today’s conditions is not pleasant, mainly because the current situation is the opposite of all that Tourism stands for. Tourism is a journey into the unknown, it is communication with other people, it is to walk out free and carefree, it is to live with others, it is to trust the person who rents you or sells you something, it is ultimately the sweet experience of human contact and knowledge. All of the above are exactly what we should not do today, in the age of the coronation.

So can we talk about Tourism as long as there is a corona?

Can there be Tourism in conditions of global insecurity?

Will tourism return as we knew it?

Will we see our fellow man again without suspicion?

Will we sleep in an unknown bed again?

All of the above seems difficult, but let’s not forget that man adapts easily and finds solutions to things that seem difficult and insurmountable at first. It is clear that the solutions we will find today will not magically restore the previous situation. They will be difficult solutions. They will rob us. But we all know (hope) that difficulties will not last forever. Soon we will live again as before. It is this hope that makes it easier to implement the difficult constraints we face in our daily lives today.

Unfortunately, similar rules of distancing and hygiene need to be applied to Tourism for a while, so that it can function at this time. 

Is it possible to see tourists in the colonial era?

My optimism that there will be a number of visitors is based on two reasons.

The first reason  is based on the fact that  distancing rules can be applied much more easily in summer tourism  compared to the difficulties that will exist in winter tourism. In our country we are talking mainly about summer tourism where almost everything is done outside. The beaches are outside, the cafes / bars have tables outside, the restaurants are the same. One problem remains in hotels that accommodate a large number of tourists indoors. Smart and safe solutions will be applied there, which I am sure will be found mainly with the help of Technology.

But there is a  second reason to be optimistic. In addition to  research showing that people living in the countries of origin of our Tourism are still interested in vacationing , there is a tool that shows the search trends in Google that are often used by those involved in Marketing. This tool is called  Google Trends . Let’s see there how the trends are for 2 searches related to holidays in Greece. The first captures the trend of searches for travel in Greece in general (Travel search category) and the second captures the trend of searches for my island, Kefalonia. These two trends refer to searches conducted in the United Kingdom.

The trend of travel searches for Greece from the United Kingdom (as shown above) although it remains very low for the season, it  is obvious (red arrow) that after March 22 it gradually begins to recover  every week.

Searching for holidays in Cephalonia (as shown above), after March 22, show a continuous increase per week, although extremely low trend for the season.

These two facts simply show us that people in the UK are still interested in their vacation. The question mark is of course when they will be realized.

What are the conditions to see Tourism this year?

Most likely,  neither treatment nor a coronavirus vaccine will be found this year before the summer season  (without ruling out the miracle we all hope for!). As long as there is no cure, tourism will work (as much as possible) in the shadow of the virus. There are  many scenarios for what will happen this year . In these scenarios, there is one that, under several conditions, provides for the  existence of incoming tourism in our country this year. This scenario predicts that there will be inbound tourism this summer, albeit in the shadow of the coronation, but only if certain conditions are met.

Tourism will be activated at some point this season:

  • If the numbers related to the mockery do not get worse in our country but also in the countries of origin of the tourists. If the numbers show a decline, the various restrictions will slowly be lifted, and at some point the travel and travel ban will be lifted.
  • If in Europe and the EU There should be coordination to remove the lockdown at least for tourism services.
  • If there is and is a fast and reliable antibody test that can be done quickly at airports and destinations.
  • If the airlines start flying again at some point in the summer, something that seems possible with today’s data.
  • If bookings are made / valid in hotels, accommodation and airplanes.
  • If all the countries of origin and destination open their borders.
  • If everyone has not gone bankrupt until the restrictions are lifted.

Πολλά and many more “If…”

All of these conditions seem many and the situation may seem extremely difficult and pessimistic. But this is not exactly the case. Things are difficult but not impossible. The most basic condition on which almost everything depends is the numbers concerning the virus. If they are kept low in all countries then the rest will start to happen.

However, in the (desirable) case where all the above take place and come to our country, some tourists, at least, it  is good that some new rules for the provision of tourist services have been defined in each of our tourist destinations.

Tourism will never be the same after the colonial as it was after September 11, 2001. Tourists will initially have several additional insecurities. These insecurities should be addressed appropriately by destinations, tourism companies and airlines.

New Tourism Distancing Guidelines for Tourism

The rules of social distancing (physical distancing) or physical distancing (physical / real / spatial distancing) are now known to all of us, since we apply them every day for several weeks. During this year’s tourist season, but probably in the next ones as well, we will be concerned with some other rules that I call  tourism distancing rules.

Tourist distancing is the appropriate rules of hygiene, behavior and distance that tourists and permanent residents (ordinary residents, business owners and employees) must know and apply to a tourist destination until a final solution has been found for the colonist.

In other words, we are talking about social distancing as it should be applied not in the city where we live but where we travel.  In the field of aviation, we are already starting to see some  companies that are changing the model of their services .  I believe that in this area, too, there should be a horizontal and universal approach to the problem after an agreement between the companies. In this article, however, we will focus mainly on the actions that tourist destinations need to take.

Tourism destinations should set their own guidelines (Tourism Distancing Guidelines) according to the guidelines set by the state today for the daily life of the ordinary citizen.

In every serious tourist destination today, when there is still time, some actions must be taken that will lead to the clear definition of the guidelines of tourism distancing. In the context of these actions and  once the necessary new rules for each category of stakeholder (resident, tourist, professional, employee) have been identified and recorded, and for each tourist service, some action should be taken. These are:

  • Inform residents that they will deal with tourists. There is a chance that we will have problems that will stem from fear or ignorance.
  • To coordinate the Regional Hospitals with the hotels and the airports in order to create reaction protocols in possible cases.
  • To coordinate all the involved state bodies (Ministries, Authorities, EOT, etc.) through a universal planning, in order to create appropriate operating protocols in the areas that concern them (museums, archeological sites, ships, etc.).
  • Inform the owners of accommodation and hotels about the additional services that are now required to offer (gloves, masks, disinfectants, new markings, etc.) and which of their old services should be changed. Hygiene and safety will be the A and O of Tourism in the age of the colon. Everyone needs to adapt to the new data.
  • Inform restaurant owners and cafe / bar owners (restaurant in general) how to change the service and layout of their stores (distances, dividers, etc.).
  • Inform all other business owners and tourism service providers (beaches, sunbeds, watersports, car rentals, etc.) how to harmonize their operating model with the new data.
  • Inform all interested parties about the possibilities of using technology applications that can solve distancing problems.
  • To inform and train all the staff of the tourist companies for the new data. In this new reality, employees need to know that they can work properly with precautions, security and at the same time provide decent and enjoyable service.
  • To change the model and the goal of advertising tourist destinations. Advertising must aim (for this year at least) at exclusivity, outdoor activities, nature lovers and the indirect promotion of the perfect application of tourism distancing in each destination. Mass tourism, as we know it, will have difficulties this year, but this may have a positive effect on the lengthening of the season, as in addition to the imposed restrictions, more and more people will realize the benefits of a more smoothly distributed tourist load.
  • Change the reception procedures for tourists at regional airports so that there is control and serious treatment of incoming tourists. In this way, both the tourists themselves and the permanent residents of the destination will feel safe.
  • Create information for all travelers about the rules that apply to each tourist destination and share it on the plane.

Shouldn’t we be ready for things to go well?
Shouldn’t our organization start now?

Above are the general planning objectives and the procedures that need to be implemented after the necessary new tourism distancing rules have been discussed, designed and recorded. However, the specific rules / protocols must be created by the experts / involved in each tourist service and process. We can all think of some rules. For example, we could suggest signs in the rooms that say that the sheets are washed every 3 days at 60 or 90 degrees and then ironed, while they are not touched by bare hands. In the same line, the cleaners should always wear gloves, etc. But let’s leave the recording of the specific rules to the experts. It is a very serious process.

This article aims to demonstrate the need for these rules to exist and spread. Obviously, in the process of creating the rules, experts will be greatly helped by similar rules that apply in countries that have gone through similar epidemics in the past, such as many Asian countries. There are already health protocols that determine the reaction in the event of a case or outbreak of the disease. An example I often use is that of an airplane.Everything on the plane works with checklists. Pilots have checklists for all takeoff, landing and any other process or problem. This is because it is a very serious process to fly a plane and many lives depend on pilots. The same should be done now in Tourism. Rules / protocols / checklists should be created for each process. Only in this way will Tourism “fly again”.

However, the basic principle that we all need to keep in mind is that the creation and implementation of the new rules must be designed in a way that does not discourage the tourist from traveling. If the rules are so tedious and difficult that they make the trip to Golgotha, then they will have absolutely no value. Obviously this is extremely difficult.

In the process of defining and disseminating new rules in tourism, all public bodies can and should play a key role.  It seems that positive steps are already being taken  in this direction, but they must take a comprehensive form so that there is a universal and integrated planning for all tourism businesses, for all institutions, for all residents.

A new manual for all tourism businesses must be created in the age of the colon

It is certain that a similar discussion will have started in other tourist destinations. However, because in our country, today, when these lines are written, we are doing well in relation to the numbers of the colonnade,  there is a chance that we will be the first (or one of the first) to open in Tourism. If that happened then we would all be in for a treat.

Which audience should we target this year?

Social distancing is an oxymoronic concept. Can it be something social and distant at the same time?  Tourist distancing on the other hand is not so oxymoronic. This is because tourism can be a “celebration of socialization” (beaches, bars, clubs, etc.), but it often contains the concept of distancing. Many times we do tourism to escape, to distance ourselves, to isolate, to calm down or to live alternatively. In short, some tourists are likely to accept, perhaps sometimes with pleasure, serenity and isolation through tourist distancing. This is exactly what is already being advertised by many tourist destinations and is presented as exclusivity (exclusive / personalized tourist services), VIP treatment, alternative experience and contact with nature. Words and phrases such as:  Tranquility, Exclusivity, Listen to your senses, Relax and Enjoy nature  and other similar slogans are found in the advertisements of almost all destinations in Greece. These terms imply distancing and emphasis on unique personalized services / experiences.

It is obvious that a person as a tourist may be more receptive to distancing himself than he would be to the imposition of distancing in his daily life.

Tourism is likely to operate at some distance. There is a critical mass of tourists who can, relatively easily, accept the rules of tourist distancing. They are the tourists who want to distance themselves anyway because that is the goal of their vacation. We are, of course, talking about middle- or high-income tourists looking for peace and contact with nature, not mass tourism.  We must aim at them, at least this year. In addition, it is much easier to provide tourism services to these tourists, as long as the new rules apply, than in mass tourism.

So our efforts should be focused on:

A. High-income tourists who are likely to stay in a  pool villa will rent a car and spend most of their time inside (as has always been the case)

B. Their independent income tourists who wish to live  experiences in nature, doing some sport or activity they love (hiking, biking, climbing, etc.)

Fortunately, we can accommodate both categories of tourists in most destinations in Greece.

After all, is it possible to have Tourism in Greece in 2020 and how?


Our country may have incoming tourism even this year.

There are, of course, several conditions for this to happen. But if the conditions are right, we  as a country and as destinations, must be ready to welcome and serve tourists in a new way, with some new rules. These new tourism distancing guidelines must be set immediately, be clear and simple for all stakeholders (agencies, permanent residents, tourists, owners, employees).

At the same time, the advertising targeting of destinations in our country must be changed and on the one hand they must aim at higher income tourists and on the other hand for experienced tourists (mainly alternative rural activities). It is not easy to change the target group of tourists for destinations that are accustomed to mass tourism. But an effort must be made.

In closing, I would like to mention two important points for thought and discussion:

  1. It is obvious, especially in today’s conditions, the need to create Management and Marketing Organizations (Destination Management / Marketing Organizations) in every tourist destination in Greece. The value of such Organizations (when they work properly) is seen mainly in the difficult ones.
  2. Greek Universities have Departments that deal with Tourism throughout Greece, in each Region. 

    It is time now for the Regions and the Municipalities (the Greek state in general) to make use of the knowledge and research that is being conducted on Tourism in the Universities that operate next to them. A start was made by  EOT with the Institutions of Crete  but the same must be done throughout Greece. After all, the government’s choice to “listen” to scientists has proved to be a lifesaver for the country in terms of managing the health crisis, let alone doing so now for tourism.

All of the above does not only apply to this season. They will certainly be valid as long as there is no cure or vaccine for the coronary artery. Most likely, however, even after the time of the colonnade,  many of the operating practices that will be adopted during the health crisis (mainly in relation to safety and hygiene), will be a given and a prerequisite in the consciousness of tourists in the future. Therefore, the better and faster adaptation reflexes Tourism shows in our country, the more effective it will be for everyone. Let us remember the great changes in travel around the world after September 11, 2001. There was, as now, fear and uncertainty. All of this seemed like a huge and very difficult change for travelers and yet it was established, implemented and worked. Today, even more obvious procedures are being implemented, which have even prevented several more terrorist acts. So, “No evil pure good”, it is enough for all of us to work and coordinate. In this crisis, it seems that there is seriousness, restraint, coordination and concentration by everyone in our country. This can certainly be extended to the activation of Tourism.

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