This summer, American airlines will operate 14 direct flights every week between eight large US airports and Athens, Greece as the country eases its coronavirus travel requirements.
Greek tourism minister Vassilis Kikilias said after a meeting with US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt that direct flights between Greece and the US will start serving passengers on March 7, earlier in the season than in any other year.
This “amounts to a vote of confidence in our country by a key market that adds high value to Greek tourism,” Kikilias said on Monday.
Great meeting w/@Vkikilias discussing the resumption of direct American carrier flights to Greece next month & the prospect of another record 🇺🇸 tourism year. We welcome the govt's lifting of testing requirements for vaccinated Americans as a further catalyst to economic revival. pic.twitter.com/RoLsc7afef
— Geoffrey Pyatt (@USAmbPyatt) February 14, 2022
On Saturday, COVID-related travel measures were eased, making it much easier to travel to Greece from Australia, Canada, and the US — and catch that flight.
Where can I catch direct flights to Greece?
Year-round, New York City’s Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) is the only North American airport that offers direct flights to and from Greece; Emirates and United offer flights out of Newark. April 1 marks the restarting of United flights from Newark to Athens.
In early March, New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) joins Canada’s Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Montréal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) in offering North Americans a direct link to and from Greece; Delta offers flights out of JFK, whereas YYZ and YUL are served, primarily, by Air Canada.
In early April and until October, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) offers direct flights to and from Greece. And, by early April and until September, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) becomes the sixth airport in North America to offer a direct link to Greece; American Airlines offers flights out of ORD and PHL.
In early May and until October, Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport (ATL) offers direct flights to and from Greece, as does Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport (IAD), although service on this daily route ends in late September.
May 1 marks the beginning of United flights between Newark and Athens. And, by late May and until October, Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS) also offers a direct link to Greece; Delta offers flights out of ATL and BOS, whereas United Airlines flies out of Dulles.
What do I need to travel to Greece?
In early February 2022, Greece eased some travel restrictions, including removing COVID testing requirements for all vaccinated travelers from Australia, Canada, and the US.
Great news for all travellers from USA! Starting today, all visitors from 🇺🇸, 🇨🇦, & 🇦🇺 can now enter #Greece 🇬🇷 just with their vaccination or recovery certificates, without undergoing any PCR or rapid testing! Check the graph below for more information! @GreeceInUSA pic.twitter.com/B4vos9e5mn
— Consulate General of Greece in New York (@GreeceinNewYork) February 12, 2022
All travelers holding a European Union Digital Covid Certificate (“Green Pass”) can now enter Greece without showing a negative test.
Travelers from the following 33 non-EU countries or territories will also be permitted to enter under the same rule: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and the Vatican.
The certification must show either proof of full vaccination completed more than 14 days before arrival, proof of recent COVID recovery, or proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, or rapid antigen test taken no more than 24 hours prior.
Travelers from all other countries, including children over the age of five, must show proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival or a rapid antigen test taken in the previous 24 hours. Test results must be written in English and include the name and passport number of the person traveling.
All travelers must complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) prior to departure. This includes details of where the individual has been and the address they plan to stay at in Greece. Each PLF includes a unique QR code which must be scanned upon arrival at the Greek border.
Travelers may be required to take a COVID test on arrival into Greece. Anyone testing positive will be required to self-isolate in a designated hotel. In some cases they may be permitted to isolate in their own booked accommodation.
Greece’s inter-island ferries are fully operational, but passengers over the age of 12 must complete a health declaration and show proof of a recent negative COVID test, proof of recent recovery from the virus, or full vaccination 14 days before travel.
What should I expect in Greece?
Virtually everything is open again in Greece, with proof of vaccination being your key to get into most indoor spaces, including museums and sports venues. To enter a bar or restaurant, you must bring proof of vaccination—and the US CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card is accepted, although you may get hassled for a European Union Digital Covid Certificate (“Green Pass”) but that’s not required.
In late December, the Greek government imposed certain measures, such as limiting bars and restaurants’ opening hours and barring establishments from playing music, or allowing standing customers. As of early February, the measures on hours of operation and the music ban have been repealed, and Greece is nearly fully re-opened.
The government has also made mask wearing mandatory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, with requirements that masks be either double surgical, or N95.
Tourism in Greece sees unprecedented growth
Tourism in Greece has been growing at an unprecedented rate.
In the first 10 months of 2021, from January to October, tourism revenues in Greece exceeded 10 billion euros ($11.35 billion) compared to 4.21 billion euros ($4.78 billion) in 2020 and 17.56 billion euros ($19.93 billion) in pre-COVID 2019, according to the Bank of Greece.
Looking at arrivals, Greece saw the number of non-resident visitors rise by 93.8% who generated revenue up by 142.0% against the same period in 2020, recouping 46% and 58% respectively of the record levels seen in 2019.
Meanwhile, in October, tourism-related revenue came to 1.43 billion euros ($1.62 billion) or triple 2020 figures for the same month and fast approaching pre-pandemic 2019 levels of 1.461 billion euros ($1.66 billion).
The number of non-resident arrivals and generated revenue in October increased by 124.5% and by 159.8% respectively recovering 98.4% and 77.3% of respective October 2019 levels.
The significant rise in revenue follows a summer when scheduled flights from the US to the Athens International Airport reached an unprecedented number. And, with US tourists ranking among the top, in terms of per capita spending, it’s no surprise why.
“Travel receipts in October 2021 reached 98.4% of October 2019 levels (pre-Covid), according to data from the Bank of Greece,” Kikilias said. “Tourism generates added value, creating income and jobs for the average Greek family.”
What’s the COVID situation like in Greece?
COVID infection rates are very high in Greece.
Greece has seen just under 2,200,000 COVID cases and close to 25,000 deaths, as of Feb. 15, 2022. Full vaccinations currently stand at just over 7.4 million, nearly 70% of the population.
Even though COVID cases have declined significantly since their peak in early January, as the Omicron variant took hold, the US CDC has classified Greece, alongside much of the world, as “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High” on its risk list, advising its citizens not to travel there unless they’re fully vaccinated.