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SETE: Protecting Greece’s Tourism Brand is the Aim for 2021

The goal of Greece’s tourism enterprises this year is to operate safely to protect the country’s brand, the president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, said on Wednesday.

Speaking during the Health Ministry’s Covid-19 media briefing, SETE’s president highlighted that the tourism sector’s professionals are ready to safely welcome visitors to Greece.

“Greek tourism can overcome the current difficult situation,” Retsos stressed, adding that the development of tourism figures in Greece goes hand in hand with the evolution of the pandemic’s data.

Arrivals will depend on course of vaccinations

During the briefing, Retsos warned that the current low level of vaccination rollouts recorded on some islands, such as Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Lesvos, could affect arrivals and lead to a negative development of the tourism season.

On his part, Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said that the three islands mentioned are among the 19 that Greece’s “Blue Freedom” vaccination plan is focusing on. Aimed primarily at popular tourist destinations, the plan sees to accelerate the vaccination against Covid-19 of island residents.

Photo source: Hellenic National Public Health Organization (EODY)

Kikilias said that he is confident that island residents will rise to the occasion once given the opportunity and get vaccinated.

“These islands need tourism for their economies,” SETE’s president said, highlighting that the overwhelming percentage of the GDP of Greek islands comes from tourism.

Indicatively, the contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP of the Ionian islands adds up to more than 75 percent, while in the South Aegean it reaches 95 percent.

Greece must become ‘green’ on the ECDC’s map

“Tourism professionals realize that in order to start having tourist flows, Greece must become ‘green’ on the ECDC’s map and this will clearly happen only when cases drop,” SETE’s president said, adding that everything will depend on the course of the vaccinations and each individual’s personal responsible attitude.

The map of the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) is part of the European Commission’s recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restrictions of free movement in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moreover, Retsos said that the tourism sector’s goal this year is to operate safely for visitors, residents and employees.

“Our goal is to protect the brand of our country. To serve in the best possible way those who decide to visit our country,” he said.

Greece officially opened for tourism on May 14 with no quarantine requirement for vaccinated travelers or those with a negative PCR test.

SETE’s president also underlined that any forecast for tourism’s performance this year is risky.

“We opened a few days ago but it is not an automatic process as tourism is a ‘complex machine’ that takes time, several weeks to operate… Greece is, and must remain in the eyes of all, a country of safety and of hospitality,” he said.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

    I think that Thailand is currently very high risk and it is on the Greek “Welcome list” and yet no mention of Hong Kong ( or China!) which is absurd!
    I understand it is a Diplomatic decision, but completely illogical.
    Dr. Carlo Castellucci

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