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Covid-19 Vaccination May Ease Restrictions on Travel, Says Greek Tourism Minister

Photo source: Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority

Photo source: Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority

Travel in the coming year may likely be easier for people who have chosen to be vaccinated against Covid-19, said Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis, adding however that the effectiveness of the vaccine and of measures will define developments in 2021.

Referring to the possibility of requiring a so-called health pass to travel, Theoharis said that “with today’s data, it does not make sense to ban someone from traveling because they have not been vaccinated. What seems certain now is that the formalities, the difficulties, restrictions, tests will be fewer and easier for those who have been vaccinated,” said Theoharis in an interview to Greek news website Capital.gr.

With regard to travelers who have not been vaccinated, Theoharis referred to the important role of rapid tests.

The minister said the first six months of next year will define the developments in travel and tourism based on the implementation of national vaccination plans worldwide.

Photo source: European Commission

Photo source: European Commission

“A first round of vaccinations will have been completed ahead of the summer season, but we are not going to have the full effect, complete ‘herd immunity’ as the experts tell us before the end of the year,” said Theoharis.

The minister went on to describe 2021 as a “transitional year… more optimistic compared to 2020, a year of growth, but not of full normality”.

Referring to this year’s tourism revenue of 4 billion euros, Theoharis said the results were better than expected given the circumstances. The focus now, he said, is on entering 2021 with a strong product and plan. Theoharis admitted that the year ahead would be challenging particularly in view of tougher competition.

In terms of interest however, Greece was still in the top three traveler choices among the country’s key source markets, according to international tourism operators, Theoharis said.

Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis discussing with healthcare staff at one of Greece's regional airports.

Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis discussing with healthcare staff at one of Greece’s regional airports. (archive photo)

Looking ahead, the minister said health protocols will continue to be in place because they ensure the safety of both travelers and local communities. At the same time, he noted that Greece was acknowledged for the implementation by tourism services providers of protocols and strict adherence to health measures.

Theoharis urged all tourism stakeholders to “continue with the seriousness demonstrated in 2020, the implementation of protocols. It is this seriousness that brings the awards but also strengthens our country’s brand name as a safe destination, a destination that addressed the pandemic with professionalism”.

The minister concluded on a bright note adding that Greece was now on the radar of investors and combined with the implementation of reforms the country would be entering a new era.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and SETimes.com, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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