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Greece Calls on the UK to Open Travel as TUI Cancels Tour Packages

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Tourism has only formally resumed, as Greece’s main markets such as the Britain, Russia and Scandinavia, remain closed. Credit: Greek Reporter

The European travel giant TUI announced on Monday that it is canceling tour packages scheduled from now until early July for destinations such as Greece, Italy and Spain.

The UK, which is Greece’s largest tourist market, keeps postponing the inclusion of Greece and other Mediterranean countries onto its “green list,” despite repeated appeals from Greece to relax restrictions on travel.

According to Travel Weekly, the recently-canceled vacation packages refer to dates ending ending both on July 4 and July 11. The first case includes vacation packages in Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Malta, Spain, Italy, Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza, La Palma, Formentera, Aruba, and Jamaica.

For Greece in particular, vacation deals to Chania, Kavala, Kefalonia, Mykonos, Preveza, Samos, Santorini, Skiathos, and Thessaloniki were canceled.

A company spokesperson said: “We want to offer our customers flexibility and choice this summer, so where borders are open and Foreign Office advice allows travel, we will operate to those destinations as planned.

“We are constantly reviewing our holiday program and cancellations in line with the government updates every three weeks, with the next update expected on June 24.”

Greece calls on UK to reopen travel

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Mitsotakis met with Boris Johnson in Brussels on Monday. Credit: Greek PM’s Press Office

On Monday, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with his British counterpart Boris Johnson before the start of the NATO Summit in Brussels. Mitsotakis briefed him there on the improving coronavirus epidemiological picture in Greece.

He expressed the view that this permits a lifting of restrictions for British tourists visiting the country on holiday, and asked that the UK not discriminate in allowing its citizens to travel to different European countries.

Tourism in Greece “significantly delayed”

In a letter to the Greek government on Monday, Yiannis A. Retsos, the President of Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) warned ministers that due to restrictions in travel the resumption of tourism will be delayed.

“We are in the middle of June and due to the restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism has only formally resumed, as our main markets such as the British, Russian and Scandinavian, remain closed,” he says.

He adds that “reservations are limited and it remains unknown whether even these will be transformed into actual arrivals, as we still do not know the intentions of the above markets, nor the schedules and conditions that they will work.

“Repeatedly, in our meetings, I have stressed that the resumption of tourism will be significantly delayed, since over 90% of tourist income in 2019 was income from abroad,” Retsos said.

Russia dragging its feet on Greek travel

In a report published on Monday in the Bulgarian news site novinite, it is alleged that Russia is dragging its feet over allowing Russian tourists to visit Greece and Bulgaria this summer.

The site claims that it is not because of the epidemiological situation in the two countries, but because Russia has made a political decision “on which countries to reward with tourists and which to punish.”

In 2019, Greece received more than 500,000 Russian tourists. In Bulgaria, the official figure for the same year was 450,116.

Novinite reminds its readers that after the downing of a Russian military jet by Turkey in 2015, the flow of Russian tourists was suddenly diverted from Turkey to Egypt.

This time, it claims, the beneficiary is Turkey. “Russian tourists are flocking to Turkey, where the epidemiological situation, by the way, is significantly worse than in Bulgaria and worse than in Greece,” Novinite reports.

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