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Struggling to revive the party island for the super-rich


Greece is hoping a large-scale vaccination plan will help the ‘party island’ of Mykonos revive amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two weeks after the Greek government announced the reopening, silence still enveloped Mykonos, Europe’s most popular party island, according to CNN .

Summer has arrived but luxury yachts anchored in deep-water ports are sparse, elite parties have yet to begin, music festivals are banned, bars remain closed. However, behind that bleak landscape is a whole plan to revive the tourism industry that has begun to spread across the island. In the labyrinthine alleys of the main town, street painters are painstakingly painting the walls. They hope that in the next few weeks or months, their work will be flooded with check-in photos on Instagram. Greece is launching a campaign called Blue Freedom on 80 islands with the desire to rebuild the smokeless industry amid the pandemic. The campaign started with a plan to vaccinate against Covid-19 for all people on the islands. Mykonos struggles to revive tourism. “Heaven” hides Greece’s post-Covid-19 economic recovery plans rely heavily on the tourism industry. This industry accounts for 18% of the economy and provides one-fifth of job opportunities for workers. Tourism also helped Greeks get out of a 10-year financial crisis that ended just before the outbreak of Covid-19. Last year, the country welcomed less than a third of 2019’s tourist arrivals, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Organization. Mykonos belongs to the Cyclades group of islands and is the most famous destination in Greece. Before the pandemic, this place was known as a “party paradise” for the super rich and famous. From former US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to female stars such as Grace Kelly (USA), Brigitte Bardot (France), Sophia Loren (Italy)… all have visited Mykonos. Mayor Konstantinos Koukas said: “The people of Mykonos were shocked when the number of tourists dropped sharply last year. But this year there are signs that the number of visitors may double compared to 2020.” Before the pandemic, the island of Mykonos was famous for its bustling nightlife. Compared to some other Mediterranean countries that also depend on tourism, Greece is said to be working hard to revive the smokeless industry. At the beginning of April, as the world faced a new wave of epidemics, the country reopened to most tourists. It is the second EU country, after Croatia, to allow Americans to come in without quarantine. According to the CNN , Americans are the most generous travelers in the Mediterranean country. The US ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, recently praised the “record nine direct flights per day by US airlines to Greece this summer”. With dozens of fully vaccinated islands and long coastlines, Greece promises to become a “shelter paradise” in the middle of the epidemic season. However, things in Mykonos seem more complicated. This party island is unlike any other idyllic destination. Mykonos’ brand and sales are shaped by its bustling nightlife, a business that’s not easy to bounce back from during the pandemic. Magic formula Although the US State Department recently added Greece to its long list of “Level 4: Do Not Travel” countries, the promise of a Covid-19-free Mykonos has attracted the interest of travelers worldwide. demand, especially from the US. Iraklis Zisimopoulos, CEO of the Semeli Hospitality Group hotel, restaurant and bar chain on the island, said his company has received a lot of inquiries and booking requests recently. “The two main questions are the vaccination plan and whether tourists will be able to party on the island like they used to. We told them that in July things will probably be back to normal as they were. There’s never been a pandemic.” Zisimopoulos describes the vaccine as a “miracle recipe for a return to nightlife”. Greece hopes a nationwide vaccination plan will help revive Mykonos. Global reopening plans remain flexible, depending on the policies of each country. The new variant of SARS-CoV-2 is a constant worry. Some countries continue to ban their citizens from traveling abroad. Travelers may be forced to quarantine after returning home. However, in Mykonos, the first large yachts of this summer have arrived. At the trendy Alemagou Beach bar, German booze is ready again. After months of lockdown, a visitor from Hamburg (Germany) said that she and her friends were finally reunited in Mykonos and it felt like a dream. “Last year, we were not vaccinated. But this year, we became the first to get vaccinated and travel. We want to show people that they can have a good time and be safe here,” she said.