Greece expects hundreds of thousands of tourists to arrive from Russia this summer, as the result of joint efforts to resume tourism activity between the two countries.
In conclusion of his 3-day stay in Moscow, the Greek Minister of Tourism, Harry Theocharis, confirmed that discussions to gradually lift the travel restrictions are at an advanced stage.
Theocharis had a series of contacts with high-ranking government officials and representatives of the tourism industry such as leading tour operators, focused on the bilateral efforts to free tourist movements and simplify formalities whilst respecting health protocols.
Aiming for more flights between Greece and Russia
Dmitry Zverev, the Deputy Minister of Transport of Russia, who is responsible for tourism, agreed with Minister Theocharis to proceed immediately to the mutual recognition of conventional, paper certificates of inoculation, as well as to technical discussions on the recognition of digital certificates.
The plan is that tourists from Russia with proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 or a negative PCR test upon arrival can be exempt of quarantine rules like tourists from other specific destinations.
The two parties also reached an agreement on the joint effort and request to the respective health committees of Russia and Greece, for the extension of the flight schedule between the two countries.
Following a meeting with the head of the Federal Tourism Organisation, Zarina Valeriyevna Doguzova, and the representatives of Russian tour operators, Minister Theocharis stated that the Russian tourist market is ready for the start of the summer season in Greece.
“Russian tourists have already chosen our country as a destination and all that remains is the official release of travel,” he said.
TUI promises 300,000 Russian tourists to Greece
During the meeting, the general manager of TUI Russia, Taras Demura, had informed Minister Theocharis that the company has the capacity to fly some 300,000 Russian tourists to the country, provided that travel routes indeed reopen without restrictions in mid-May.
“A precondition for this is for Russia and Greece to take all the necessary decisions so that on May 14 there can be a resumption of air traffic between our countries without restrictions,” Demura pointed out.
When that happens, TUI Russia is planning to launch charter flights to Crete from Moscow and Yekaterinburg, as well as to Corfu from Moscow, Rostov-on-Don and Kazan.
Their program for Greece will also include scheduled flights to Athens, Chalkidiki, the Peloponnese and the islands of Zakynthos and Santorini.
Pilot lift of quarantine has started in Greece
In the meantime, Greece started a pilot lift of its quarantine requirement on Monday for international travelers arriving from USA, UK, EU, UAE, Serbia and Israel with proof of vacination, immunity, or a negative PCR test upon arrival.
This soft opening of the tourism sector is expected to help authorities in identifying policy gaps and omissions ahead of the official launch of the 2021 tourism season on May 14, when the travel ban is scheduled to be lifted for visitors and residents alike.