Greece opens to tourists, banking on a recovery

On the Greek island of Rhodes, hoteliers are scrubbing, polishing and painting in preparation for a make-or-break season.

The country is opening for travellers from the European Union, the United States, Britain, Serbia, Israel and the UAE - none of whom will have to quarantine if they have been vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19.

George Tselios runs the Sun Beach Hotel:

"We're preparing the hotel in order to start as soon as the government gives us the green light," he says.

The season in Rhodes usually runs from March to October, and operators would have typically started laying out sunbeds and beach umbrellas.

Instead, shuttered luxury resorts tower over a long, empty coastline.

Many have been closed since last year, when just 7.4 million people visited Greece.

That was down from over 31 million in 2019.

The country relies heavily on tourism, and slipped back into recession last year.

The sector counts for a fifth of GDP and one in five jobs.

But Greece insists it now has more experience in handling the pandemic - including widespread testing, quarantine hotels and plans to quickly vaccinate small island communities and tourism workers.

Despite the preparation of hotel workers, bookings so far are slow, and many expect it will be a season of last-minute reservations.

That would hopefully bring some relief to resort owners, some of whom say another summer like last year's would be unsurvivable.