Almost 200 Dutch tourists traded lockdown in the Netherlands for eight days of voluntary confinement in a Greek beach resort, as part of a test to see if safe holidays can be arranged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m very excited,” said Amy Smulders, 25, a graphic designer who travelled with her sister, beaming beneath her face mask as she waited for her luggage on Rhodes island on Monday.
“It feels very strange to be here, but (I’m) really excited to go on holiday.”
For €399 each, participants will have “all-inclusive” access to the pool, restaurants and other facilities of the Mitsis Grand Hotel Beach, but they are barred from leaving resort.
As well as regular COVID-19 tests and remaining 1.5 metres apart, they must settle for watching the Aegean Sea from their rooms or terraces, as no one is allowed to leave the resort, where they will be the only guests.
Despite the restrictions, demand for the trip was high, with around 25,000 people applying.
Tourism-dependent Greece is eager to draw people back after a devastating 2020 that saw visitor numbers plunge to a quarter of the previous year’s level.
“It’s very important for people to start coming to us,” said Konstantinos Taraslias, deputy mayor for tourism on Rhodes, Greece’s fourth-biggest island, which caters almost exclusively to foreigners.
*Source: Reuters, Guardian