Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis stated in a press conference on Tuesday that Greece is pinning its hopes on opening its tourist season on May 14 – but only to those who have been vaccinated or have antibodies against the coronavirus or test negative for it.
The vaccination of tourist workers wills lao be prioritized, he added, after those who belong to vulnerable groups are inoculated.
“We aim to open tourism by May 14, with specific rules and updated protocols. Until then, we will gradually lift the restrictions if conditions allow,” Theoharis noted to reporters.
The Tourism Minister spoke to the press at the Acropolis Museum as part of the International Tourism Fair ITB Berlin, which this year, because of the coronavirus, had to be held virtually.
New tourist season slogan is: “All you need is Greece”
Revealing the new tourist slogan for the Summer of 2021, “All you need is Greece,” Theocharis invited the international public to visit Greece this year to forget the “unpleasant memories” of the past year.
This year and forever, he stated, “All you need is Greece.” Taking a much-needed vacation in Greece, he says, will “put a smile on your face again, with the hope that you will take back life” after the unending difficulties of the past year.
Until May 14, Theocharis explained, a pilot opening for the tourism season will be considered, most likely beginning in early April, opening to residents of not only EU nations but also countries that have advanced vaccination programs, such as Israel.
Theocharis stressed, however, that all the plans he laid out will be subject to the ongoing conditions regarding the pandemic.
Random testing will still be the norm at points of entry
In addition, all tourists are likely to undergo random testing this coming Summer, as was done last year. The important difference this year, however, he noted, is the use of rapid tests, making the process infinitely easier and ruling out the cumbersome mandatory waiting period for results.
Theoharis also noted that all the costs that may arise in relation to Covid 19, including hospitalization and so on, will be provided for by the Greek state at no cost to tourists.
He also stated that all the rules that apply to Greek citizens will also apply to tourists — without any distinction or exception. For example, the mandatory use of the masks is currently enforceable in public places and this restriction applies to everyone.
The Tourism Minister pointed out that the country will strengthen the infrastructure of the Greek health system in all vacation destinations, as, he said, “we did last year to ensure proper care for citizens and visitors.”
Theoharis stated that in order to ease into as early as possible of a tourism season, “the vaccination of those who work in the tourism sector will be prioritized, if the vaccination of the vulnerable groups is completed.”
He then added “we will proceed with the updating of the health protocols, utilizing the experience of last year.”
“Thanks to the power of the human spirit”
The Tourism Minister noted that the Summer of 2020 proved that Greece can indeed provide a safe travel experience to everyone, putting them and the Greek public at the least amount of risk as possible.
“We managed to open Greek tourism safely (last year). We created protocols for each activity, trained thousands of employees, collaborated with the private sector that exemplary implemented the protocols, strengthened each island and destination and created the EVA that improved the effectiveness of controls,” he noted.
“More than optimistic”
“Now,” Theoharis added, “we are close to the exit from the dark tunnel, thanks to the power of the human spirit and the progress of science.
“The best image for the return to the normality of tourism,” he concluded, is provided by “the Greek smile, the Greek landscape, and Greek hospitality.
“For 2021 in Greece we are more than optimistic. We are ready. We are ready to share the experience of liberation from the unpleasant memories of the pandemic with each of our guests.”