Tourism cannot be blamed for the recurrence of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, said Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis this week, supporting the government’s decision earlier this summer to re-open to travelers despite the unprecedented conditions.
Speaking on pubic radio, Theoharis said that Covid-19 was a war and “in times of war, decisions are made based on data in order to achieve the best possible result”.
“2020 was an extremely difficult year. The government had to ensure balance between its health obligations towards our fellow citizens and the gradual opening of the Greek economy which includes tourism,” he said.
“We managed to find a much better balance than most European countries and that gives us pride,” he said, adding that Greece has been recognized internationally for its success in safely opening to tourism.
Theoharis went on to add that Greece managed to safely handle approximately 6 million travelers this year, which was a significant gain for the Greek economy.
“Fears of an early second wave in the summer with the arrival of tourists have been dispelled and it is clear that the opening of tourism is not responsible for the second wave of the pandemic,” he said.
Theoharis went on to reiterate the importance of the decision to re-open to travelers noting that it strengthened Greece’s “brand name” and reputation as a country that was able to manage the Covid-19 crisis well, leaving the best impressions on visitors.
This, he said, was demonstrated by the number of awards Greek tourism and travel businesses and infrastructure, including Athens International Airport and AEGEAN airlines, won for enforcing strict protocols and ensuring safe travel.
“This demonstrates that protocols were followed with professionalism, seriousness and consistency, as should be the case,” he said.
The minister lastly referred to a national tourism plan currently being drawn up focusing on short-term objectives including the best preparation for 2021 as well as on broader strategic actions.