Why your summer holiday to Greece looks promising
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Editor’s note: As the travel industry looks to reopen following the latest COVID-19 lockdown, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. All non-essential travel in the U.K. is still banned until further notice. This story has been updated with new information.
Greece is one of the most popular summer hotspots for Brits. From the stunning sunsets in Santorini, partying into the night in Mykonos and the slow pace of life you’ll find in the Greek Islands, there’s plenty to love about a holiday in Greece.
But with travel completely upended by the coronavirus, what happens to your Greek summer holiday this year?
Like with most things about the coronavirus pandemic, information is changing every day. So planning for a summer Greek hol is all but certain, as what we know now may be different from what we know by next week.
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Ultimately, your summer Greek holiday depends on several things. First, government restrictions. If the Greek government backtracks on its position that it will allow Brits in who are vaccinated or have negative test documentation, you may not be allowed to holiday there. Second, the supply has to be there. If there are no airlines flying to your destination, it’ll be impossible to get there, and if the hotels haven’t reopened, there will be nowhere to stay. Lastly, your willingness to travel, including your willingness to potentially self-isolate for 10 days when you return home — that is, if the U.K. government doesn’t change its current restrictions. Airlines will have to convince passengers that air travel is safe, which could prove to be challenging. Other factors will ultimately add to the equation as well, but these are the main holdups.
In the past few weeks, a number of airlines have unveiled their plans to return to service throughout May, June, July and beyond. Among them, low-cost carrier Wizz Air announced its intentions to launch a number of routes for the summer — including to Greece. For example, beginning 28 May, Wizz Air plans to launch holiday flights from Doncaster Sheffield (DSA) to Heraklion (HER) in Crete.
Additionally, said that it plans to operate some new routes to Greece — for example, from Bristol (BRS) to the Greek Islands of Mykonos and Santorini.
Fellow low-cost carrier Ryanair has said that it expects to operate 1,809 routes this summer across 221 airports and 37 countries — showing that it has high expectations for a summer travel rebound. The most-served airport for the summer will be London Stansted (STN), with Manchester (MAN) being the eighth-most served.
Meanwhile, the U.K.’s full-service carrier British Airways is remaining relatively tight-lipped about its summer plans. In December 2020, it did announce that it will axe more than 15 long-haul routes for the summer 2021 period, though none of them are to Greece.
Of course, these summer holiday routes depend on the respective governments lifting travel restrictions in relation to COVID-19. Currently, all travel — both domestic and international — from the U.K. is banned under lockdown restrictions.
In February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the roadmap out of lockdown, which promised to “use data, not dates” in determining the timeline for reopening England. As such, for now, the earliest date by which domestic holiday lets could reopen is 12 April.
Currently, the Global Travel Taskforce is meeting to develop a plan for a safe return to international travel. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to unveil the group’s findings to the prime minister by 12 April. By that point, we will know if international travel will be permitted to resume on 17 May at the earliest.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, in order for a Greece holiday to go ahead, the Greek government needs to keep its current stance that says it’ll allow U.K. travellers in.
As of mid-May, the country is set to reopen to tourists. As of that date, Greek tourism minister Harry Theocharis said that the country will allow in people who are vaccinated against COVID-19, have the antibodies or who test negative in advance of their travels.
“Greece is ready with a complete protocol for summer 2021,” Theocharis said. “Tourists will be welcome if before travel they are either vaccinated, or have antibodies, or test negative. All tourists will be subject to random testing.”
Finally, the U.K. government will need to alter its travel restrictions on returning to the country in order for travel to resume. Currently, all travellers entering the U.K. must have a negative COVID-19 test result, taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure. Additionally, as all travel corridors remain suspended, all arriving passengers to England are required to quarantine for 10 days — passengers coming from one of 33 high-risk travel ban countries are required to undergo their 10-day quarantine in a hotel, costing £1,750. Finally, all arriving passengers are required to take two additional COVID-19 PCR tests on days two and eight of their quarantine.
Simply put, all of those restrictions can’t remain in place in order for leisure travel to resume.
Tourism is a huge draw for Greece, which is why the country is looking to reopen its doors sooner, rather than later. The tourism industry accounts for about one-fifth of the country’s economy and employs about one in five workers.
If flights resume, hotels have reopened, the Greek government has lifted tourism restrictions and the U.K. has altered its restrictions for returning home, there still is one big issue that both the airlines and hospitality operators have to face — attracting travellers to come. Airlines have to convince travellers that flying is safe, and hotels have to go to great lengths to prove to travellers that they are clean.
A summer Greek holiday is likely high on the minds of many of us after spending months at home and locked down. But ultimately, that Greek holiday lies in the hands of a number of factors. First and foremost, government restrictions have to be lifted in order for U.K. passport holders to be allowed through the country’s borders. There also has the be the supply there — and a number of low-cost carriers have already revealed they plan to offer that option. Finally, the consumer’s willingness to travel has to be there — including a potential quarantine on return.
And above all, the U.K. has to allow for us to travel internationally once again. And the earliest that can happen is 17 May.
For now, it looks like mid- to late-summer travel to Greece may happen — June, July and beyond. It’s even possible that a late-May trip to Greece could be on the cards. As with all things about the coronavirus, it’s possible — and likely — that things could change over the coming days and weeks. Greece may paint a clearer picture as to when it’ll allow tourists in, more airlines may reveal routes from the U.K. to the country and the U.K. government itself may reveal new, eased restrictions for returning travellers.
Related: The 10 top spots in Greece for Brits
If you are keen on getting the summer holiday to Greece planned and booked, be sure you pay attention to the cancellation policies on both your flights and hotels. Use flexible booking policies to your advantage during this uncertain time, as things may change from day to day and week to week.
Featured photo by 1001nights/Getty Images.
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