Greece planning to reopen for tourists earlier than originally planned

May 21, 2020

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Update 21 May 2020: Greece is planning to open its borders for tourism earlier than originally expected. On Wednesday, Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitotakis said in a televised address that the country would open hotels to foreign visitors on 15 June on flights only to Athens. Then, as of 1 July, the country’s other airports will open to international arrivals.

Mitsotakis said that the country will not blanket test all arrivals, however, Greek authorities will have the right to carry out sample testing.

The country’s tourism minister said that a list of countries from which visitors will be able to travel from will be announced later this month. According to the Associated Press, Balkan and Baltic countries, Germany and surrounding countries are expected to be allowed to enter as of the 15 June opening. Some countries, however, may be excluded.

It remains unclear if travellers from the U.K. will be allowed to enter Greece as of that date.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel — and it’s a sunset in Mykonos.

Greece, arguably one of the most popular summer holiday spots in the world, is planning on opening up the country to tourists come July, Reuters reports.

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The country has been on lockdown since 23 March and is trying to save what’s left of the summer tourist season. Last year, it drew 34 million visitors who brought in over $19 billion in revenue, Reuters adds.

The government will ease lockdown restrictions on 4 May, and hotels that operate throughout the year will be able to reopen on 1 June.

Greece’s tourism minister, Harry Theocharis, told Reuters TV, “This season is not going to be like the other years, I would be a fool to believe that this could ever be the case. However, there is a lot that we can do to reopen the tourist economy, the flows”.

Related: How hotels can prove to guests they’re safe after coronavirus

In an interview with BBC News, Theocharis added, “Now this cannot be with every source country, with every destination, but we have to try to open up with some countries … Europe is the most developed area in the world with regard to tourism [and] if the tourism sector is not restarted there can be no lasting economic restart”.

The country’s aggressive containment measures have paid off so far. There have only been 2,620 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 143 related deaths, according to data from WorldOMeters.

It should be noted that the FCO still advises against all non-essential travel. If things change and you do decide to book a trip to Greece this summer, be mindful of both hotel and airline cancellation and rebooking policies. Many airlines have shifted to temporarily allow travellers to book new flights now and cancel for a refund or travel credit later, often with the ability to make changes within the next year and even into 2021. You should also definitely consider protecting your trip with a travel insurance policy that allows you to cancel for any reason.

Featured image courtesy of Allard Schager/Getty Images.

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