Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
Greece is preparing to welcome tourists this summer, regardless of whether they have had a vaccination against Covid-19, Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis said in statements to Reuters reported on Friday. While Greece has led the call for the adoption of a digital ‘vaccination certificate’ to facilitate travel in the summer, it will open to visitors either way, Theoharis was reported as saying.
“People who are vaccinated, have tested negative or recovered from the disease and have antibodies are welcome to Greece and we will welcome them irrespective of any agreements,” Theoharis told Reuters.
According to the news agency, Greek revenues from tourism plunged to four million euros in 2020, down from 18 billion euros in 2019, while just 7.4 million people travelled to Greece, down from 31.3 million the year before.
“We will have a better year than last year,” Theoharis said. “This is not obvious now because the bookings are depressed… there’s a lot of gloom, a lot of pessimism in the market, but I’m sure in the end my calculation is going to be correct.”
Theoharis dismissed criticism that tourism increased new infections last year as “understandable … but completely unfounded.”
“The second wave which engulfed all of Europe roughly at the end of October, beginning of November, came to Greece at exactly the same time, perhaps even a couple of weeks later,” he said.
Residents of several Greek islands have been vaccinated and Greece plans to vaccinate all tourism workers by summer, after vulnerable groups. Those not vaccinated will be tested at least once a week, Theoharis said.
“We have to balance all concerns because we have people who are employed, we have people who need to find jobs,” Theoharis said. “This year I think we have more tools in our arsenal.”
ALL YOU WANT
Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis invited people all around the world to spend their holidays in Greece this summer, highlighting the country’s slogan “All you want is Greece” during his address on Tuesday to the ITB Berlin 2021 international travel trade show, which this year is taking place online.
“Now and forever the only thing you want is Greece. To bring a smile back to your lips, with the hope that you will take your lives back, the only thing you want is Greece,” he said.
Theoharis said that Greece hopes, provided the epidemiological conditions permit, to open the gates for tourism by May 14. Until then, he explained, a “pilot” opening is being examined, probably in early April, with EU countries and those that are far along in their vaccine roll out, such as Israel.
Addressing the potential visitors of the country, Theoharis underlined that Greece is ready to welcome them with a comprehensive protocol for the summer of 2021, which will welcome visitors provided they meet one of three conditions: They have either been vaccinated or they have antibodies or else a negative COVID-19 test.
ITB BERLIN 2021
Athens participated in the Berlin Berlin International Travel Trade Show (ITB Berlin), which took place online, from March 9 to 12 through “This is Athens”, the main pillar of the Development and Tourism Promotion Company of the Municipality of Athens (EATA).
During the show, there was a special presentation of Athens as a destination for the foreign participants, but also of the strategic plan for a sustainable city. In the online presentation, the advantages of modern Athens were analysed, with emphasis on its rich cultural heritage, excellent hotel infrastructure and award-winning gastronomy.
“Our participation in the ITB, one of the world’s leading travel trade shows, is part of the intensive effort of the Municipality of Athens, through EATA, to promote the Greek capital as one of the most competitive destinations in Europe. With a series of important initiatives for Athens, such as the upcoming Travel Trade Athens event in April, the city’s participation in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, claiming major international conferences, attracting investment, implementing a series of advertising campaigns and partnerships with large private entities for the promotion of the city, Athens is methodically preparing for the next day in tourism. Our goal is for the city to gradually return to the upward trajectory which it had before the pandemic,” the CEO of EATA, Vangelis Vlachos, said.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) praised the Greek government on Thursday for “its tremendous efforts and strategic steps taken to restart international travel from 14 May.”
In a statement, WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara said that this clear roadmap to recovery “lays out the pathway which other countries could follow, in a bid to kickstart safe travel and help revive their own stricken economies.”
Guevara also welcomed the government’s intention to welcome visitors with proof of vaccination, a negative test or a positive antibody test, and said that these measures “will provide the reassurance consumers need to book their trips.”
As one of Europe’s most popular destinations for travellers, Greece relies heavily upon international travel, particularly from Germany and the United Kingdom, she said.