Greece proposed a safe travel plan for the upcoming summer season at a meeting of the Crisis Management Committee of the World Tourism Organization in Madrid on Tuesday.
Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis presented the detailed proposal for the essential coordination of governments and state bodies with the tourism industry for the safe and efficient return to travel in a world where Covid-19 still rages.
As chairman of the committee’s technical team working on the safe opening of tourism in 2021, Theocharis pointed out that the proposal for travel this Summer is based on three pillars: vaccination, data interoperability and rapid antigen testing.
“People who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 should move freely. However, we must make it absolutely clear that vaccination should not be mandatory or a prerequisite for travel,” the Greek minister said.
Greek Prime Minister’s initiative
As part of the effort to restart tourism activity, Theocharis proposed a vaccination certificate, an initiative of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis which has already been presented to the European Council.
Theocharis stressed the need to adopt common rules for the issuance of the vaccination certificate, as well as its conditions and possible uses.
At the same time, Athens is pushing for a quick return to free movement within Europe, with the goal being to resume travel between all the countries of the European Union by June 15, where possible.
The Greek Prime Minister, in a communication he had with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, allegedly called for the acceleration of all the initiatives so that the upcoming tourist season would not be lost.
No ban on visitors to Greece
Vaccination will not be a precondition (to enter Greece),” stressed the Tourism Minister speaking to public broadcaster ERT1, from Madrid.
Theocharis said that “We must focus on those (Greeks) who are not vaccinated. This is the best way to protect the citizens of our country.
“The tests we would otherwise use for visitors to Greece, will be utilized for the rest of the population where there will be a greater risk, and this is where we will focus,” the Minister said.
Speaking of the Mitsotakis initiative, Theoharis said that the Prime Minister opened this conversation now because such discussions take a long period of time in the European Union.
“Therefore, we have started the discussion now so that we can reach a decision before the start of the tourist season,” he said.
“Now we have to agree on common rules, and reach the level of coordination needed to have a successful tourist season. I can assure you that this season will be better than 2020.”