Greece’s grand reopening to tourism following strict coronavirus restrictions on Friday is being met with optimism nationwide. Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis proclaimed this morning that “We are raising anchor,” as Greece opened its doors to foreign travelers.
Greece’s tourism sector is one of the most important parts of its economy, accounting for more than 20% of GDP. The country is planning on rejuvenating its tourism sector after a difficult season last year due to the coronavirus.
Greece opens to tourism amid coronavirus
Greece’s plans for opening to tourism on Friday while keeping people safe from the coronavirus include entry requirements, comprehensive vaccination campaigns at tourist hotspots, and vaccine passports.
All those who travel to Greece will need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) a day before arriving. People entering the country, regardless of entrance point, will also need to either provide proof of a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours prior to touchdown or a certificate showing they have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the first flights from abroad touched down on Greece’s Mykonos and Rhodes on Thursday.
“All you want is Greece”
Tourism Minister Theocharis announced a new multimillion-euro promotional campaign on Thursday. Theocharis was joined by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) chief Dimitris Fragakis at Cape Sounion, near Athens, to present the new campaign.
The new motto for encouraging people to travel to Greece is “All you want is Greece;” the slogan will be utilized in a series of five videos targeting different key markets.
Additionally, the GNTO will work with 18 airlines and 76 tour operators on a promotional plan budgeted at 10.6 million euros. They are also investing in “smart” digital campaigns, budgeted at 12.3 million euros.
A new GNTO platform under the existing name “Visit Greece” went live on Thursday. Fragakis explained that this platform will be explained in more detail at a later date.
This comes as a bid to boost the struggling Greek economy, which fell a staggering 8% last year. Tourism revenue, a vital part of the economy, plunged to 4.28 billion euros ($5.0 billion) in 2020 from 18 billion euros ($21 billion) in 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of tourist arrivals also fell fell 76.5 percent, to just 7.4 million, according to the Greek Tourism Confederation Institute.
Greece nixes lockdown for tourism season
Greece will do away with most of its existing lockdown restrictions, including those prohibiting travel between regions, on May 14, as it reopens to the world.
On Wednesday, the Greek government announced that it would lift the current ban on travel between regions on Friday. It will also do away with the rule stipulating that all citizens must send an SMS to be allowed to leave the house for any reason at that time.
Akis Skertsos, deputy minister to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, stated to the press today in a briefing that “We are putting the lockdown behind us.”
However, restrictions will still apply in the case of those Greeks living on the mainland who wish to travel to the Greek islands — other than Evia and Lefkada.
One of the new “All you want is Greece” promotional videos is shown below: