Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis met high-level EU officials in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss formulating a common approach to health and safety protocols that will facilitate travel in Europe.
“Now is the time, with the new tools in our hands, with the fastest and most reliable tests, to plan the new tourist year,” said Theoharis after meeting on the sidelines of a European Council meeting with UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton and European Parliament President David Sassoli (in a video call).
Commenting on Tuesday’s European Council decision to adopt the Commission’s recommendation on a coordinated approach to free movement restrictions in response to Covid-19, Theoharis, who also heads the UNWTO’s Regional Commission for Europe, said it was a very positive step “which must be accompanied by even more intense efforts to achieve the desired integration of procedures in all countries”.
The Greek minister reiterated Greece’s position for a single unified approach across all member states which will ensure safe and seamless travel.
“This year has been a difficult one, but a promising one, and a year in which we will have to revisit common rules in order to lay the groundwork for a better future in tourism,” he said.
The Greek minister added that all countries must rise to the occasion and the role of the Commission “must be such that it manages to unite and bring opposing views to the same table”.
Pololikashvili also agreed that it was a matter of urgency of to develop coordinated policies to restart tourism in the EU and to ensure tourism remains high on the Union’s political agenda.
“Only through European coordination can we successfully relaunch tourism in Europe and around the world,” said European Parliament President David Sassoli.