Greece’s 2020 tourism season will begin on June 15, the day the country will begin welcoming back flights from abroad, it was announced on Wednesday.
Addressing the public in a televised address to the nation, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the government’s plan to support the economy, employment and tourism in the coming months amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The transition from today’s uncertainty to tomorrow’s security is based on three pillars: employment support, tax cuts and boosting entrepreneurship,” he said, adding that the government’s new Covid-19 economic response package adds up to 24 billion euros.
Referring specifically to tourism, the PM said Greece’s 2020 season will begin on June 15, coinciding with the date the country’s seasonal hotels will open their doors. Greece’s year-round hotels will open June 1.
Greece will be welcoming international flights from June 15, initially only at Athens International Airport. From July 1, all Greek airports will be open to flights from abroad.
According to Mitsotakis, Greece’s visitors will undergo sample tests when required and must abide by the country’s general health protocols (to be announced soon), which however “will not cast a shadow over our bright sun or natural beauty”.
It was announced that Greece’s incoming tourists will not need to have a coronavirus test prior to travel nor will they be quarantined after arrival.
Among the support measures for Greece’s tourism enterprises, the government is giving professionals the opportunity to adjust their employees work hours until the end of October.
The PM underlined that employees working less hours will receive almost their same salary through the new employment support program Syn-ergasia, which will cover most of the difference in payment. The social security benefits of workers will also be covered. Fund for the Syn-ergasia program will come from the EU’s SURE program.
Moreover, for the next five months, the VAT on the country’s transport tickets will be slashed from 24 to 13 percent.
“I know the importance of cheaper travel by bus, ship or plane. And I want those who will vacation here in the summer to be charged as less as possible,” he said.
The VAT on package travel will be also be reduced.
The Greek PM also announced that programs will be launched to support the country’s domestic travelers.
In addition, he added that the VAT on coffee, non-alcoholic drinks and tickets of Greece’s open-air cinemas will be cut.
Mitsotakis said that anything Greece manages to achieve in tourism this year will be considered a success, considering that the sector had hit rock bottom in April and May.
He added that Greece’s weapon against the coronavirus is its well-earned “passport” of safety, reliability and health.
The coronavirus has so far infected 2,850 people in Greece and the death toll has reached 166, still among the lowest among EU member-states.