Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday said that the government did not hastily open its tourism market in the post-Covid-19 era, but did so gradually and in an orderly way.
Speaking in parliament, the Greek PM countered opposition’s allegation that opening to tourism was one of the main reasons for the increase of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in Greece.
“The data is relentless and the latest increase in cases is due primarily, not exclusively, but primarily to domestic movement and the relaxing of protection rules and less to foreign visitors… Because the opening of tourism was done with a continuous study of the epidemiological data of each country of origin, and with sample tests at all entry points,” he said.
‘We were ready’
“We opened to tourism when we were ready with a system for controlling and tracking incoming flows. We have created an innovative system,” the PM said, referring to the Passenger Locator Form (PLF).
“Other countries have requested to copy and use the system that we followed to take action,” Mitsotakis said, also referring to targeted tests at entry points, identifying coronavirus cases in a timely manner and containing the pandemic by taking local measures.
Providing data on the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases detected at Greece’s entry points, the Greek PM said the figure reached 972 out of a total of 451,908 tests performed on incoming travelers from July 1 to September 6.
Underlining the safety measures followed on airplanes and ferries in the country, PM Mitsotakis brought to parliament’s attention that no employee of any Greek airline or ferry company has contracted Covid-19 while interacting with travelers.
4 million foreign visitors expected this year
According to the Greek PM, the number of visitors from abroad to Greece this year is expected to reach 4 million, which translates to 4 units of tourism revenue to GDP.
“Our purpose was to save what we could from a tourism year which many considered completely lost. This remains our goal today, as we have entered September, and we expect that we will be able to reach October or November without any unpleasant surprises,” the Greek PM underlined, adding that Greece gave an example of safe accommodation and professionalism, and can capitalize on both in the future.
Six months after the outbreak of the coronavirus, Greece is counting a total of 11,542 recorded cases and 286 deaths.
According to data presented by the PM, Greece is 111th in the world in deaths per million residents, four times below the average amount of deaths on a global level.