Greece aspires to open to tourism this year by May 14, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said on Tuesday on the opening day of the ITB Berlin 2021 virtual event.
“We’re updating last year’s health protocols to take into account the accumulated experience of the previous year. With these protocols in mind, we aspire to open by the 14th of May,” Theoharis said.
Speaking during an online press conference at the Acropolis Museum, Theoharis said the government is aiming to gradually lift Covid-19 restrictions by the opening date of May 14 in accordance to health considerations.
“For example, we plan to test our health protocols in the beginning of April with EU and other highly vaccinated countries like Israel,” the tourism minister said, however, adding that – for now – all dates are indicative.
How Greece will Open, who can come
According to the minister, Greece is ready to welcome visitors with a complete protocol for summer 2021.
“Tourists will be welcome if they are vaccinated before travel or have antibodies or test negative,” Theoharis said.
All tourists that enter Greece will be subject to random testing similar to last year based on the country’s EVA program, Greece’s AI screening and testing program created to vet the Covid-19 risk of incoming tourists through all of the country’s entry points.
“An important difference of course this year is that we can use rapid tests,” he added, explaining that if a traveler tests positive, isolation will take place immediately without the visitor having to face the hassle of moving 24 hours after having already settled in.
Moreover, the minister said that all health needs, including hospitalization, related to Covid-19 will be provided by the Greek state at no cost to tourists, just like last year.
He also said that all of the country’s rules that are valid for Greeks will also be valid for tourists.
“There will be no differentiation, no exemption,” Theoharis said, adding that – for example – mask wearing in public places applies to all citizens and guests.
Greece will also strengthen its health system structures in all destinations like last year to provide reassurance of proper care to citizens and guests alike.
Furthermore, the government will prioritize the vaccination of people working in the tourism industry, as well as of the general population, as soon as the most vulnerable receive the jab.
“In the meantime, we are mandating frequent testing of employees in order to provide both safety and peace of mind,” the minister said.
Greece’s new slogan
During the press conference, the minister revealed the country’s new slogan to promote Greek tourism to markets abroad: “All you want is Greece”.
“Yes, this year and forever, all you want is Greece – to put a smile on your face once again… In the hope that you will get your life back, all you want is Greece,” the minister said.
Referring to the 2021 tourism season, Theoharis said Greece is “more than optimistic” and ready to “share the experience of liberation” from the unpleasant memories of the pandemic with its guests.
“Today one can add to the incomparable advantages of Greece as a tourist destination its commitment to offer and guarantee the health and safety of each and every tourist,” he said.
Germany has ranked as the leading tourist market for Greece. According to data provided by the ministry, over 1.5 million German tourists visited Greece in 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic out of a total of 6 million tourists. In 2019 Greece had welcomed 4.03 million Germans.
The ITB Berlin NOW 2021 Virtual event will run until March 12.