Tourism professionals in Northern Greece are recommending that health safety documentation be required for incoming visitors by road ensuring safe travel in the aftermath of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Incoming tourism from countries bordering with Northern Greece can save the day, tourism stakeholders claim as there is no need to rely on air transport. However, the issue of health protocols is vital if Greece wishes to tap into road tourism.
“Every year, 8-9 million tourists from neighboring countries cross the border and choose destinations in Macedonia and Thrace. This year, May was lost, but for the summer we have 60 to 70 percent of our bookings active,” said the president of the Halkidiki Rooms and Apartments for Rent Federation, Dimitris Chadalis, adding that tourists and tour operators in neighboring countries are still awaiting safe travel rules.
According to Chadalis, the majority of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises including 3,200 in the popular Halkidiki peninsula are safe to operate because there are usually no common spaces such as pools, restaurants, or recreation centers. “So, we are awaiting the health guidelines to be announced by mid-May,” he said during a recent interview on Radio North 98.
At the same time, the Thessaloniki Hoteliers Association (THA) is working with the tourism ministry to come up with a set of health regulations for the operation of hotels in the city. The association’s president, Andreas Mandrinos, underlined to Radio North 98 that hoteliers were also in anticipation of EU-wide rules on air and road travel.
Greece borders with Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. Earlier this week, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said facilitating road tourism was a priority.
“Road tourism will recover faster and therefore there must be conditions in place so that the borders can open immediately… We are working on the necessary health protocols to apply at the country’s admission points and at the same time, we are taking all the necessary steps to open to [tourism] flows from the Balkans as soon as possible,” Theoharis said to the Greek media.