Greece is drawing up a plan to safely re-open to tourism, said Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis, adding that in the meantime, the government will continue to support the sector which has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on public broadcaster ET1 on Wednesday, Theoharis said efforts were being made to prepare for the upcoming tourism season. Central to the government’s plan is vaccination of tourism professionals, he said.
“We’ve drawn up a plan for how tourism will open, which includes making the vaccination of people in the industry a matter of priority. The plan will be examined by the experts and opening will depend on the course of vaccination in our country,” he said.
The minister went on to underline that employees, professionals, and business owners in tourism will be supported by extra measures.
“The government is still supporting, as it did throughout 2020, with 24 billion euros employees and businesses. At the same time, an additional 7.5 billion euros have been slated for 2021. Therefore, there should be no anxiety or doubt that support of businesses, employees, and tourism professionals may end prematurely, but also all for other industries, such as F&B,” he said.
Theoharis also referred to additional emergency actions taken by the government to support ailing tourism businesses, including the so-called refundable deposit, 50 percent of which, Theoharis said, was now non-refundable.
The minister went on to refer to the more than 22 million euros in subsidies allocated to Greek tourism enterprises employing public service tourist buses, open type urban city tourist coaches, as well as tourist trains and to tourism transport companies, adding that after working with the labor ministry, tour guides had also been included in the government’s subsidy program.
Demonstrating the government’s commitment to the tourism sector, Theoharis said the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (HHF) had recently finalized a new collective labor agreement with similar terms to last year’s.