200 tourists, 1 isolated resort: a lockdown test

Around 200 Dutch tourists arrived on the Greek island of Rhodes on Monday (12 April) trading lockdown at home for eight days at a beach resort, where they will enjoy access to the hotel’s pool, restaurants, and other facilities.

The catch?

That’s all they have access to. No long walks along the beach, no mingling with other guests closer than 5 ft, and at least five days of quarantine upon return.

This isn't just a holiday on the island of Rhodes. It’s an experiment organized by tour operator, Sunweb and the Dutch government, to see if safe holidays be arranged for the Greek tourism industry, which has been hit so badly in the last year.

"It feels very strange to be here right now, but I am really excited to go on holiday."

Despite the restrictions, demand was high - around 25,000 people signed up in the hope of getting a $475 ticket to the place, called the Mitsis Grand Hotel Beach resort.

Sunweb spokesperson, Martine Langerak, hopes the experiment will pave the way for tourism to reopen.

"We all hope to go on holiday soon with less restrictions but until then we have to do the tests, we have to follow our restrictions. We are happy to be here to gain insight so we can share it with the whole travel industry so hopefully we can travel normally very soon."

Locals on Rhodes have responded with mixed feelings. The deputy mayor for tourism said it was a step forward, while others worry told Reuters that it didn't help the businesses outside the resorts -- such as local restaurants.