British tourists could be back in Greece as early as July according to the country’s tourism minister. The Greek minister Harry Theoharis spoke on Tuesday to local television SKAI TV and said officials were working to identify ways to allow for travel during some of the countries busiest months, while ensuring optimum health and safety is achieved.
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According to tourism publication, Greek Travel Pages Mr Theoharis said that if specific protocols are put in place throughout the EU, the tourism season may be partially saved this year, despite the devastating effect coronavirus has so far had.
However, it does mean that Greece’s tourism season would be cut short, spanning for just three months.
The government official suggested that the country would now be working to ensure the season could push through until at least September, and possibly into October.
Speaking to SKAI TV Mr Theoharis said: “Τhere may be some demand for October and maybe even November, but this is something that we will examine at a second stage after solving the season’s main issues.”
He also mentioned the prospect of the so-called “health passports” which have been suggested by a number of governments globally.
These health passports would allow authorities a way to track the health status of visitors entering the country via air, boat and car.
“Different countries have to agree on this ‘safe entry’ practice and I have urged the European Commission to have such health protocols in place,” explained the tourism minister.
Though these plans are not yet set in stone, the minister says he had presented the idea to the National Public Health Organisation (EODY) and is awaiting feedback.
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Greece relies heavily on tourism and is expected to take a large economic hit as a result of the global lockdown.
Last year alone an estimated four million British holidaymakers jetted off to the sun-kissed destination.
At present, the country has in place a flight ban until mid-May “at the earliest”.
What’s more, mass cancellations have already impacted a chunk of the country’s usually popular hotels.
According to the Institute of Tourism, around 65 percent of hotels are expected to declare bankruptcy as a result.
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In a worst-case scenario, the minister said tourism could drop by 75 percent.
However, Greece remains in a good shape compared with the rest of Europe, having reported just 125 deaths as a result of the pandemic.
The country has so far had just over 2,400 confirmed cases.
Meanwhile, the UK currently has had 138,078 cases.
We expect tourists from Europe and in this context, our country has an advantage, as out of all Mediterranean regions we are the safest,” Mr. Theoharis said.
“Tour operators are waiting to be informed on the health rules that hotels will follow so that we can build trust with our visitors on the one hand and on the other hand to announce a clear timetable for when exactly our seasonal hotels will be in operation.
“Once a timetable for the gradual lifting of restrictions is agreed on, we will agree with EODY when exactly the hotels may operate.”
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