By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
of the “Greek News”
For the 11th consecutive year, the bilingual Greek-American weekly newspaper “Greek News” is launching a two-month campaign to promote Greek tourism, with the general theme “Let’s go to Greece”, “because we love Greece.” This is a campaign that we initialized a few days after the tragic events of Marfin, in May 2010, which have resulted in mass cancellations of reservations to Greece. “Greek News” was the first and only Greek media of the Diaspora (and the world), that stood up for Greece at the time of need, by investing in the patriotism of the Greek Americans; and call them to help the motherland financially in the direst economic crisis of its history, by visiting the country during the summer and spend their American dollars.
The effort was successful! Since then we repeat this campaign every year, offering our services to Greece voluntarily. In 2018, we were proud to see that visitors from the United States to Greece surpassed the one million mark.
This year, under the very different circumstances in the United States, the decision to launch the 11th “Go to Greece” campaign was not an easy one; with millions of unemployed and thousands of businesses closed down; without even knowing exactly what will happen to air travel to Greece; with uncertain flight and airport security and without knowing what regulations will apply upon returning to America. But, after exchanging views with specialists in the field of air travel and tourism and being convinced about the seriousness and the determination the Ministry of Tourism and the Government of Greece proceeded with the safe opening of the country, we decided to go ahead with our 11th Campaign. Choosing the slogan, “We are going back to Greece” in a more general form without a precise timeframe, because at this moment every depends on the situation in the United States and the opening of the flights to Europe.
As things stand right now, American Airlines will launch the direct flight from Chicago on July 7, Emirates from Newark, NJ on July 1, Delta will start in mid July and it’s possible for Norwegian to start in July its direct flight JFK – Venizelos.
Our campaign this year will not focus on emotion, but on reason. We will not emphasize on the patriotic duty of the Greeks in America to help their homeland, but instead we will present all available facts and let you make up your own minds. If you feel safe taking a transatlantic trip, Greece is one of the safest destinations in the world. In addition to the beauty, the history, the bonds and the family that wait for us, Greece has managed to mitigate successfully the Covid-19 pandemic; by taking very soon sharp measures of social distancing, it has succeeded a minimal number of coronavirus cases and fortunately a very low number of deaths. It has successfully completed the first phase and is now ready to welcome foreign visitors, from some countries by June 15, from most by July 1 and from the rest of the World by July 15.
The Greek Government has already announced the preventive measures and protocols in the tourist and restaurant industries, the protective measures at the airports, stations and mass transportation, as well as the measures that will be taken when virus case are detected. The measures are compreshensive and can work, although we would have preferred the visitors to submit upon their arrival the results of a test taken 72 hours earlier. Greek Government pushed for a European decision on that in order to guarantee uniformity, but only 12 countries agreed,
During our campaign, from Monday, May 25 and until we close for Summer vacation in mid-July, in addition to the messages we will host from members of the Greek Diaspora and political and tourism figures in Greece, we will inform you about the security measures taken by the authorities, information about various destinations and offers. In today’s issue, the Minister of Tourism Haris Theocharis and the President of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Angela Gerekou inaugurate our campaign with their messages to the Greek American Community.
The campaign is a voluntary effort and an offer of heart from the “Greek News” and the Omogeneia to Greece and our brothers and sisters there. But we encourage businesses in the tourism industry as well as Greek American businesses and organizations to support our initiative, especially this year that it takes place at a time when newspaper revenues are dangerously low.
Our message to you is that Greece, the most beautiful country in the world, is also one of the safest countries in the world, as it has proven it by the way it battled the pandemic and by the steps taken to welcome once more visitors safely. We want to go to Greece and as soon as the conditions allow it we will go back.