Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis introduced “Restart Tourism,” Greece’s new campaign for the 2020 season, at Zappeion Hall on Thursday with a short promotional video targeting a foreign audience.
After months of strict measures and a lockdown against the novel coronavirus that turned out to be a success story for Greece with less than 3,000 recorded cases and a total of 180 fatalities until today, the country is said to be ready to open its borders to international visitors.
The first phase towards normalization began on May 4 and the government’s plan is to gradually lift all measures.
On June 15, flights to Athens and Thessaloniki airports will resume for countries with a good epidemiological profile, while as of July 1, flights to all Greek airports and from all countries will restart.
The government’s target is to focus on three main factors — to keep workers healthy, to be able to deal effectively with any COVID-19 cases, especially in the islands, and to be able to protect the jobs of people working in the tourism sector.
Despite the country’s successful course to contain the virus, experts remain cautious over the government’s decision to open the country’s borders for travelers out of fear of a new wave as there will be no coronavirus tests.
“We do need tourism. We cannot close the tourist season. However, we will have cases coming from aboard,” Nikolaos Sipsas, a professor of infectious diseases, said in an interview with Antenna TV.
According to the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) and local media, from May 24 to June 2, a 10-day period, 25 of the 69 new cases that were confirmed in the country were related to travelers abroad, a rate of 36.3%. That is higher than the rate of 21.8% from the start of the crisis.
On Monday, 12 passengers from Qatar who arrived in Greece tested positive for COVID-19 at Athens International Airport.
They will remain for 14 days under quarantine.
Tourism, a sector the Greek economy is tied to in multiple ways, could not be exempted from this gradual reopening, Mitsotakis said today during the launch of the tourism campaign
Greece relies heavily on tourism as it accounts for 20% of its GDP and is something that the government is long waiting for after recovering from years of economic crisis.
“Tourists will come to a Greece that is the same but at the same time different. They will have to observe the basic hygiene protocols invariably. The protection of public health and the safety of visitors and workers in tourism remain our top non-negotiable priority. It is to our advantage that in the summer, we will be in open air, where specialists say that the possibilities of contagion are significantly reduced,” said Mitsotakis.
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