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COVID-19 pandemic sparks Greek house-hunting frenzy among foreigners

  • July 14, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic may have dealt Greece’s tourism a devastating blow, but it is proving to be a boon for many European home hunters, turning this sun-drenched country and its islands into the biggest buyer’s market in over a decade.

British demand alone has surged by more than 200% in recent weeks, riding a rising tide of investment interest since the UK government announced plans to relax travel restrictions weeks ago, local and international real estate agents say.

Read more: Holiday homes in demand among ‘safety-first’ travelers

In a spray of data recently released by Britain’s biggest property marketplace, Rightmove, Greece ranked as the hottest search destination in Europe, next to Spain, France, Portugal and Italy. The interest, in fact, has been so intense that more than a million online inquiries were recorded on the day the government announced its new travel orders in late June.

Location, location, location

Across the board, the five favored destinations — Greece, Spain, France, Portugal and Italy — reported a 340% rise in overseas interest compared to figures recorded in mid-June, real estate officials say.

But Greece, says Piers Williams of Chestertons Ionian “is really bouncing back … It has been over a decade since we had such activity.”

A villa for sale on the island of Corfu, Greece

Whether the flood of inquiries will lead to solid sales, however, remains unclear. Despite relaxed travel orders, Britons largely remain wary of traveling outside their country, no less to Greece to seal prospective property deals, agents concede.

But German nationals are already on the ground, snatching up deals, they tell DW. So too, are home hunters from France, Austria and Switzerland.

“The phone just hasn’t stopped ringing,” says Hillary Dawson of Crete Homes. “I have viewings lined up solid for the rest of the summer months,” she adds, having just returned from showing a seaside estate to a French couple that lost no time driving down to Greece this week to negotiate a property deal at the island’s picturesque town of Agios Nikolaos.

Good news, bad news

Official figures have not yet been released. But industry officials estimate that German property investments alone have spiked by 50% in recent months, targeting large swathes of arid land in the Peloponnese and million-dollar villas on whitewashed islands like Amorgos, Crete, Karpathos and Corfu — all property put on the market largely because of the Greece’s tanking national economy.

With the country heavily reliant on tourism and the industry paralyzed by the coronavirus pandemic, the European Union has warned that Greece’s economy will contract by 9.7% this year, almost a percentage point higher than in 2011, its worst year of a decade-long recession that nearly pushed the European Union’s poorest member out of the single euro currency.

The irony? Greece has been hugely successful in handling the pandemic. And its continued bid to keep the country relatively COVID-19-free — less than 200 deaths have been reported among a total number of 3,826 cases — has been the driving force behind the house-hunting boom among foreigners.

“People just feel safer here,” says Williams of Chestertons. “And they want to preserve that safety under the sun.”

For British clients, the Brexit factors also weighs in. “COVID-19 may have scuppered their relocation designs, but the mad dash is on and all are now rushing, almost desperate to buy a home by the end of the year in order to get [European Union] residency status,” Dawson says.

If you build it …

Heightened arrivals from the UK are due later this week, when the government in Athens scraps its ban on British tourists, allowing them free and unfettered entry to the country from July 15.

Next to the nearly 4 million German nationals who holiday here each year, bringing in more than €2.5 billion ($2.8 billion) in hard currency, British nationals account for Greece’s biggest pool of foreign visitors.

Of some 5,750 properties listed on Rightmove alone, 1,754 are on Crete and are mainly private retreats ranging from around €10,000 to over €10 million. More than 25 listings include massive seaside resorts, a cafe bar and large expanses of beachfront property for development.

Read more: Greece: For recognized refugees, the hardship isn’t over 

But the list is expected to grow, including more commercial plots and investment properties. Short of a miraculous upsurge in bookings in the coming months, as much as 65% of the nation’s hotels are forecast to face potential bankruptcy — many of them on the islands of Crete, Rhodes and Corfu, state statistics have shown.

“We have seen no real movement on the commercial front yet,” says Williams. But as the summer comes to a close and losses are tallied, many small businesses will have no other choice than to dump losing operations for quick cash, he says.

Demand, supply and liquidity shocks to the world economy are already setting the stage for a deep global recession, worse than that resulted from the 2008 financial crisis, Greece’s foreign ministry has warned.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Stricter face mask wearing rules on the Balearic Islands

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Flights overshadowed by fear

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    Caribbean states reopen for tourists

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    Development Minister Müller: Reviewing travel restrictions for Africa

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    EU relaxes entry restrictions

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    Paris Eiffel Tower is open again

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    Night of Light – nationwide protest of the event industry

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    Semperoper in Dresden reopens

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    World famous Alhambra in Granada opens again

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    “Re-open EU”: A website with travel rules for Europe

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Germany’s borders are open again

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Bookings on Airbnb are picking up again

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    German government extends worldwide travel ban

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Tourist pilot project launched on Mallorca

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    App to regulate beach visits on the Baltic Sea coast

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Las Vegas reopens casinos

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Tegel Airport to remain open — for the time being

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Italy reopened for Europeans

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Neuschwanstein Castle is open again

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Cable cars in Bavaria are back in operation

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Roller coasters are running again at Europapark Rust

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Aida cancels cruises until end of July

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Colosseum and other sights in Italy open again

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    The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem can be visited again

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Tourism on Greek islands starts again

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Berlin Television Tower reopens

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Climbing season on Japan’s highest mountain Fuji cancelled

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Successful start of the beach season in Greece

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Quarantine restrictions for entry into Germany to be relaxed

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Borders are opening, for lovers too

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Austria to open border to Germany again

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Start of the season on the North Sea Islands

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Weimar permits outdoor catering again

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Will travel within Europe soon be possible again?

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Bavaria’s beer gardens reopen

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Holiday season at the Baltic Sea to start

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Forbidden City in Beijing will reopen

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Germany extends worldwide travel warning

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    Empty chairs a warning from restaurant owners

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    Travel between Austria and Germany will soon be possible again

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Not a normal holiday season this summer

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    The Oktoberfest in Munich has been cancelled

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Schleswig-Holstein hopes for summer tourism

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Poor outlook for tourism

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    US entry ban from Europe to remain in place for the time being

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Mallorca worried about the summer

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    More Germans brought back from abroad

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    New Zealand lets tourists leave

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    A symbol of hope

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Repatriation mission will take at least two more weeks

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Thailand closes its borders

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  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Huge repatrition drive

    The German foreign ministry announced on Wednesday (March 25) that, together with tour operators, it had brought back more than 150,000 Germans from abroad. Tour operator TUI added that almost 95 percent of the tourists who were stranded because of the coronavirus pandemic are now back in Germany. They were mainly flown out from Egypt, Spain, Portugal and the Cape Verde Islands.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Travel warning extended

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said that the warning against traveling abroad will remain in effect until the end of April. “This includes the Easter holidays,” he said on Twitter. “Stay at home! Protect yourself and your fellow human beings,” he appealed to the population. Many tour operators have also extended their travel ban until the end of April.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    EU pays for return to Europe

    The EU Commission is supporting the return to Europe of tens of thousands of long-distance travellers. It intends to cover a large part of the costs, since most of the flight connections have been cancelled. “We are here to help them return,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a video message.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Africa’s measures to deal with the pandemic

    African countries have also ordered numerous measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. South Africa, for example, has banned access to the country for people coming from risk areas. Nigeria is monitoring the temperature of travelers at airports, ports and borders. Cameroon has closed its borders indefinitely.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Australia bans foreign travel

    The Australian government has imposed an indefinite ban on all foreign travel by its citizens. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also called on all Australians who are abroad to return home. A 14-day compulsory quarantine for all people entering the country has already been in place for some time. Here, too, it has become quiet in the cities.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Tourism in Germany comes to a halt

    The coronavirus crisis is impacting travelers and the tourism industry with full force. Several tour operators, including TUI, has cancelled trips, and some airlines are shutting down. Germany’s federal and state governments decided that overnight stays should only be used for “necessary and explicitly not for touristic purposes”. Germans are to “no longer take holiday trips at home and abroad”.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    EU external borders closed

    The EU has closed its entire external borders for 30 days as from Tuesday (March 17, 2020). “All travel between non-European countries and the European Union will be suspended for 30 days,” French President Macron said in a television address on Monday (March 16,2020) evening. The Schengen Area, which includes several non-EU countries, has also closed its external borders.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Germany brings travelers back home

    More and more countries are sealing their borders, and many flights are cancelled. With special flights Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings want to bring up to 6,500 stranded holidaymakers from the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and on Mallorca back to Germany. In Morocco, the German government is assisting German tourists who are stranded there due to their return flights being cancelled.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Germany partially closes its borders to tourists

    On Monday morning (March 16, 2020), Germany introduced entry controls at the borders with the five neighboring countries: France, Denmark, Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland. Border crossings will be reduced to what is strictly necessary. Goods can continue to pass through, including commuters, but not travelers without good reason. The duration of the measures remains open.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    North German islands closed for tourists

    Whether Spiekeroog, Sylt or Rügen: Vacation on the northern German islands in the North and Baltic Sea is no longer possible as of March 16, 2020. Those who had already moved into their accommodation have been asked to return home. The health systems of the islands are not equipped to deal with large numbers of infected people. Regulations are to follow for mainland tourism.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Disneyland Paris closes

    Disneyland Paris and Disney World Florida have closed until the end of the month. Disney Cruise Line have also suspended all new departure through the same period. The company said the decision was made “with great caution” to protect guests and employees. The company said the parks in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai, which had already been closed, will also remain shut.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Austrian ski regions end season early

    All ski areas in the Austrian provinces of Salzburg and Tyrol are ending the winter season early. Cable car operation will be discontinued as of Sunday (March 15, 2020). Hotels and accommodations will be closed from Monday. The provincial governments said that this should slow down the spread of the virus in the Alpine country. The two provinces account for most leading Austrian ski areas.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    USA: Entry ban for Europeans

    Due to the spread of the coronavirus, the USA is imposing a general 30-day travel ban on people from Europe. The entry ban comes into force on Friday (March 13, 2020) at midnight (local time). It does not apply to US citizens residing in Europe who have tested negative for the pathogen.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    India imposes entry ban

    India has declared all tourist visas invalid for 1 month because of the corona virus. Only travelers who are already in the country are allowed to stay, the Indian Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday (March 11, 2020). The entry ban is to last until April 15 for the time being.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    China closes access to Mount Everest

    Climbing Mount Everest via the north side has been forbidden by Chinese authorities. The necessary permits for expeditions to the world’s highest mountain were withdrawn on Thursday (March 12, 2020).

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Italy increasingly sealed off

    In order to reduce the spread, the border into neighboring Austria can only be crossed from Italy with a medical certificate. Slovenia has closed its border, and Albania has banned Italian air and ferry traffic. Many airlines have cancelled flights to Italy until at least 3 April. Germany, the UK, and Ireland tightened travel recommendations and called on their citizens to leave.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Mediterranean cruises put on hold

    The Costa Crociere shipping company is cancelling all cruises in the Mediterranean for the time being. The cruises will be suspended until April 3, the Italian company announced on Tuesday (March 10). The measure affects thousands of passengers. Ships still operating in the Mediterranean will only call at Italian ports to let passengers disembark.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Reichstag dome closed for visitors

    The dome and roof terrace of the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin have been closed to visitors since Tuesday (March 10, 2020) until further notice to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus. The walkable dome and the roof terrace are visited by more than 2 million people every year, according to the Bundestag.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Winter sports season in Italy ended early

    All ski facilities in Italy have been closed since Tuesday (March 10, 2020) due to the corona crisis. Prior to this, hoteliers and cable car operators in the South Tyrol region (photo) had already agreed to close their facilities. South Tyrol is particularly popular with winter sports tourists from Germany and Eastern Europe. The closure is effective until at least April 3.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Travel warnings and border controls

    The Czech Republic (picture) and Poland are carrying out checks at the border with Germany to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Since Monday (March 9), travelers have faced random temperature checks. The German government has warned against travelling to risk areas. And air passengers from China, Japan, South Korea, Iran and Italy will have to expect controls when entering Germany.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Italy in crisis

    On March 8 the Italian government issued an entry and exit ban for the more than 15 million inhabitants of the northern Italian regions, which include the key business center Milan and the tourist magnet of Venice (photo). Cultural, sporting and religious events are also banned for visitors. Museums, cinemas and theaters remain closed nationwide.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Cruises a risk factor

    Repeatedly cruise ships have to be quarantined or prevented from docking. After cancellations in Thailand and Malaysia, the Costa Fortuna (photo) with 2,000 passengers, including 64 Italians, has been allowed to enter the port of Singapore. In Oakland, California, 2,000 passengers and 1,100 crew members of the Grand Princess are quarantined because 19 of them have tested positive for COVID-19.

  • Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism

    Asia fears dramatic setbacks

    Sights in Asia are particularly affected by travel restrictions for Chinese tourists. Hotspots such as the Senso-ji temple (picture) in Tokyo and the temple complexes of Angkor Wat in Cambodia are reporting a sharp drop in visitors. On March 9, the Ministry of Tourism in Thailand reported a 44% drop for February. Tourism accounts for 11% of the gross domestic product.

    Author: Andreas Kirchhoff, Susan Bonney-Cox


Article source: https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-pandemic-sparks-greek-house-hunting-frenzy-among-foreigners/a-54167374?maca=en-rss-en-bus-2091-xml-atom

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