The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on Thursday welcomed Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ proposal for an EU-wide Covid-19 vaccination certificate that would go a long way towards facilitating travel and reigniting the economy.
“The UNWTO welcomes Greece’s proposal to the EU on the harmonization of vaccination certificate. Common standards and procedures are key to safely #RestartTourism,” said the UNWTO via its twitter account.
Mitsotakis tabled the idea in a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier this week. He said it was vital for the EU to achieve a “common understanding” of how a vaccination certificate should be structured so that it is acceptable to all member states. The certificate should cover all EU members and all forms of transport, he added.
“For countries such as Greece, which are dependent on tourism, it’s imperative that this issue is resolved before the summer season,” Mitsotakis said.
Greece Leads the Way for Safe Travel
UNWTO chief Zurab Pololikashvili via his personal twitter account also lauded Greece for the initiative adding that “Covid19 vaccinations are being deployed in the world. It is now time to finalize coordinated and practical solutions to restart tourism. We welcome Greece’s initiative addressed to the EU Commission to lead the way to resume safe travel”.
#Covid19 vaccinations are being deployed in the world.
It is now time to finalize coordinated and practical solutions to #RestartTourism.
— Zurab Pololikashvili (@pololikashvili) January 14, 2021
The EU has so far failed to coordinate on the issue of safe travel in the Covid-19 era with each country implementing different rules and requirements causing great confusion among travelers and industry professionals and hindering any chance of economic recovery.
In the same direction, late last year, a European partnership of tourism federations called on the European Commission to show resolve and proceed with actions that will ensure a unified health, safety and communication protocol so that travel can resume in the post-Covid-19 era and confidence be restored during travel and at the destination.
Greek Tourism Industry Backs PM’s Call
The Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) representing the majority of Greece’s tourism enterprises welcomed Mitsotakis’ proposal saying it was a “move in the right direction”.
“A move in the right direction… Free movement… cannot be restored through unilateral action and measures such as quarantines, but by joint decisions based on vaccines and tests,” said SETE President Yiannis Retsos.
Representing Greece’s hoteliers, Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President Grigoris Tasios echoed SETE’s sentiments welcoming Mitsotakis proposal. Tasios recently called for a common EU policy that will ensure the free movement of people during Covid-19 times, adding that vaccination was the key to restarting tourism.
Covid-19 vaccination certificate not required to enter Greece
It should be noted that Mitsotakis stressed in his letter to Commission head Ursula von der Leyen that Greece would not be making vaccination compulsory or a prerequisite for travel: “Persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel”, he said.
In line with the prime minister, on Thursday, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis ruled out the need for a Covid-19 vaccination certificate for travelers wishing to visit Greece this summer.
“Under no circumstances will a vaccination certificate become a condition for someone to travel to our country,” he told Greek television.
Theoharis explained that Mitsotakis’ proposal is aimed at bringing the issue to the table in view of divergent policies which have created confusion among travelers. He went on to add that the goal is to achieve EU-wide agreement on a single set of health and travel protocols that will apply across the EU.
Theoharis went on to stress that travelers who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 wishing to visit Greece will be required to have test results. Those with a vaccination certificate will be allowed immediate entry.
The minister added however, that much still remains open and all requirements depend Covid-19 crisis committee guidance.
EU leaders are expected to discuss Greece’s proposal for a common vaccination certificate during an EU leaders tele-conference on January 21.