Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis on Wednesday presented Greece’s restart plan for the sector in the post-Covid-19 period.
“‘Restart Tourism’ is a comprehensive, coherent and detailed plan to restore Greek tourism to function safely and efficiently for the national economy,” Minister Theoharis said, following a televised address of Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis who announced the the opening of Greek tourism for 2020.
According to the ‘Restart Tourism’ plan, Greece during the tourism season will be able to manage possible Covid-19 cases immediately and on the spot at destinations, while safely welcoming and hosting tourists from abroad.
“It has clearly defined rules, which include protocols for the safe operation of tourism businesses and protocols for the protection of visitors during their travel and transport,” Theoharis said.
Priorities of the the country’s tourism restart plan includes making sure employees and visitors are safe; strengthening health infrastructure in tourism destinations where needed; and supporting tourism businesses.
The minister presented the following timeframe for Greek tourism’s restart:
Monday, May 25: Yachting restrictions will be lifted
Monday, June 1: Camps, campsites and year-round hotels will open
Monday, June 15: All other accommodation (seasonal hotels and resorts) will open. On the same day, the first stage of lifting restrictions on international flights will take place, with aircraft landing initially only at Athens Airport
Wednesday, July 1: Second stage of lifting restrictions on international flights at all Greek airports.
July 15: Gradual lifting of remaining restrictions
According to the minister, from June 15, Greece will allow the entrance of incoming tourists initially from countries chosen based on “epidemiological criteria”. The ministry will release a list of countries from which visitors will be able to arrive in Greece by the end of May. Theoharis did, however, mention Balkan countries (specifically Bulgaria), Cyprus and Israel as examples.
July 1 is the date when all of Greece’s airports are scheduled to begin allowing international flights to land. People from all countries will be allowed to travel to Greece, except from countries that have negative epidemiological criteria. A list of those countries will be released in a timely manner.
No tests or quarantine
Moreover, the minister said that Greece’s incoming tourists will not need to have a coronavirus test prior to travel nor will they be quarantined after arrival.
However, visitors will undergo sample tests when deemed required.
Theoharis said that Greek tourism’s restart plan provides specific health protocols for Greece’s hotels, tour buses, car leasing companies, ferries, airlines (health rules on board flights and in airports) and checks at entrance gates (questionnaires and sample tests). They health protocols will be announced once voted in parliament.
The plan also sees to enhance the health capacity especially of the country’s smaller islands by providing tests and more doctors as well as quarantine areas.
Also, the minister said that frequent health checks will be carried out to all businesses. All of the country’s tourism businesses will display the special seal “Health First”.
Referring to government support to tourism businesses, the minister announced the following:
- Tourism businesses will be able to extend the suspension of employment contracts until July 2020.
- Tourism businesses are eligible for reduced lease payments by 40% until August.
- Employees will be supported until September with funds from the EU’s SURE program.
- The government will provide support to seasonal tourism employees.
- The government will regulate repayable advances to relieve businesses.
- Tourism businesses are eligible for a reduction of advance income tax payments.
- VAT cuts on transport, coffee, non-alcoholic beverages and package travel
- Businesses will receive financing through the ‘Entrepreneurship Fund II- TEPIX II’ in combination with the Guarantee Fund and the Development Bank.
Greek tourism’s restart also includes plans to boost domestic tourism, aiming to attract more Greeks to destinations and tourism enterprises for the 2020 season.
“Domestic tourism is, for many reasons, important at this time, regardless that it does not contribute to foreign exchange receipts,” Theoharis said.
According to the minister, an advertising campaign will soon launch, while the social tourism holiday program by the Greek Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) will be strengthened.
A second Greek social tourism holiday program, known as “Tourism for All”, will be financed with 30 million euros and provide e-vouchers worth 120 euros to each eligible holidaymaker for a 4-night (minimum) stay at a Greek hotel. Beneficiaries of the program are estimated at around 250,000 Greeks.
Moreover, corporate holiday travel vouchers worth 300 euros will also be made available for private sector employees.
Theoharis said that domestic tourism this year is expected to secure at least 1 million overnight stays in the country’s hotels.
In regards to promotional actions, the minister mentioned a budget of 23 million euros that will include targeted advertising campaigns in the markets Greece will open to. Promotional plans also include the launch of a brand campaign, co-advertising deals and agreements with leading tour operators.
Theoharis said that through specially designed campaigns to promote Greece as an international destination – as a country able to “absolutely guarantee” safe holidays for all its visitors – holidaymakers will be ensured of a safe stay in Greece.