Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
Greece will begin the gradual opening of its borders to visitors as of June 15, Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis told CNN in an interview, following restrictions over the Covid-19 pandemic.
Theoharis explained that only Greece’s largest airports, Athens and Thessaloniki International, would allow incoming flights and those would be from a restricted number of countries based on the advice of Greek health specialists. Spot checks will be held for incoming passengers, while popular tourist areas have been funded additionally in order to deal with any potential health issues.
The government’s decisive management of the pandemic, the medical and public sector’s contribution and the responsible behavior of the Greek public are three factors of success that will continue to make Greece a safe destination for tourists, Theoharis said.
From 15 June 2020 the temporary suspension of flights for the carriage of passengers to Athens and Thessaloniki from 29 countries imposed as a precautionary protection of public health due to the COVID 19 pandemic has been lifted.
The list of the countries concerned was drawn up, after a study of their epidemiological profile and taking into account the communications of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as well as the relevant recommendation of the Hellenic Committee of Infectious Diseases.
The list of countries is as follows:
Albania, Australia, Austria, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, Japan, Israel, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Finland.
Visitors from the above countries will be subjected to random checking for Covid-19. Existing rules remain in place for all other countries.
The list will be expanded on July 1. In any case, epidemiological monitoring and evaluation will be continuous.
The US Embassy in Athens has issued a notice advising Americans that travel to Greece remains banned until July 1 at least, after the Greek government on Friday announced the list of countries from which it will be accepting flights as of June 15.
Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis on Friday presented an amendment in parliament based on three initiatives for the promotion of domestic tourism.
First is an increase of the Greek Manpower Employment Organization’s (OAED) subsidized social tourism programs to 30 million euros.
Second is a 10-million-euro tax relief program for companies, so they in turn can provide holiday coupons to employees.
Third is bringing back the ‘Tourism for All’ program with a 30 million-euro budget, which provides subsidized holidays for the unemployed, pensioners and others who qualify due to low income.
Theoharis noted that some 70 million euros will be applied to domestic tourism in total. He added that the ‘Tourism for All’ program was last implemented in 2013-2014 by the then New Democracy government, and currently concerns some 250,000 beneficiaries. The government, said the minister, is planning to expand the program to include as many hotels as is possible.
Theoharis took part in the fifth e-meeting of the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, which convened on Thursday to address the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the tourism industry.
Theoharis participated in the video conference as the Chair of the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Regional Commission for Europe and the Head of its special working group on coronavirus measures and actions. The crisis committee was launched recently by UNWTO and the World Health Organization (WHO) and is comprised by the tourism ministers of several European, Asian and African countries.
After briefing the participants about the latest actions, Theoharis presented the UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili with the White Paper on the Consequences of Coronavirus for use by the member states of UNWTO.
The White Paper comprises three parts: a record of the best practices so far adopted by various countries to deal with the pandemic, an evaluation of the pandemic’s implications, and a set of recommendations for the smooth restart of international tourism.