When Jasmin Memis got sick at a beach resort near the second largest city of Greece last year, she found out that there was no hospital in the town which hosts hundreds of thousands of tourists at any given day during summer seasons.
As the summer season is around the corner, some popular tourist-favorite countries have already laid out their summer plans for arriving vacationers. Greece whose tourism revenue accounts for more than 25 percent of its gross domestic product announced that it wont implement the mandatory 14 days quarantine rule for the summer visitors as the authorities wont also be seeking coronavirus tests. Critics says Greek economy is over-reliant on tourism.
Greece reported only three new coronavirus cases and two more deaths on Thursday. The Aegean country implemented almost a full lock down after the fatal virus hit the country and posted impressively low infection and mortality numbers. However, as it is impossible to completely scrap off coronavirus, lockdowns are no permanent solution, experts warn. “Greece’s health infrastructure is barely good enough for its own citizens. If the virus travels with summer visitors and breaks out in the country, there could be a big mass,” warned an infection specialist at an Istanbul hospital.
Turkey’s success in battling coronavirus, however, came from not strict lockdowns but from its solid health infrastructure. Turkey never placed a full lockdown as the opposition constantly demanded to avoid any disruption in supply chains. Even at the peak of its infections, hospital capacity of the country was far from exhaustion. 70 percent of the hospital beds were occupied at the peak of infections. And Turkish government opened even more hospitals during the pandemic latest of which was a colossal one in Istanbul with 70 thousand daily patient capacity.
Turkish government also announced it mulls the options on conducting coronavirus tests for everyone entering the country upon arrival. When the test results are out after couple of days, authorities would find those with positive results at the pre-declared place of stay. Even if some vacationers bring the virus along, Turkish hospitals, unlike its tourism rival Greece, are more than sufficient to offer an immediate treatment without being overwhelmed.
Being well aware of this very fact, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said after having a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday that Germany was hoping Turkey would become a favorite summer destination.
As the southern European countries Italy and Spain whom receive hundreds of millions of tourists every year still battling to take coronavirus under control, it is now clear that business will mostly be skipped this summer season in southern Europe. Southern Balkan countries offering some popular beach resorts are also in somewhat better shape as far as the coronavirus is concerned but they are subjected to similar challenges as Greece. That leaves Turkey almost uncontested this summer for the Europeans whom are desperate for hot sands and warm waters while feeling safe against coronavirus.