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Op-Ed: ‘Greek Tourism Will Be the Big Protagonist of the Next Day’ – George Vernicos

The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) has provided a podium for Greece’s key tourism figures to share their vision for the day after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The last two years, the coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented shock to our economy, society and everyday life, while Greek tourism has gone through – and is still going through – its biggest crisis.

Through a mixture of timely and structured handling, Greece managed to be credited as an example on handling the pandemic. And this was the result of a very successful strategy in order to reassure the smooth re-opening of Greek tourism with safety, professionalism and strict protocols.

Tourism finally opened with specific rules and updated protocols. Until the establishment of population immunity from vaccinations, restrictive measures – including travel restrictions by all European governments – are the only tool to prevent numerous victims.

These restrictions affect many sectors of the European economy, with tourism unfortunately occupying a leading position among them. With arrivals down 69%, 2020 has been described as the worst year for European tourism.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the picture at the beginning of 2021, instead of improving, is deteriorating.

International tourist arrivals are expected to decline by about 85% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019, which, if verified, equates to a loss of about 260 million international arrivals compared to pre-pandemic levels, with immediate effect to tourism revenues and jobs.

The progression of vaccinations and the establishment of an immunity “wall” against the virus is a priority. And it seems that we managed to create a very important tool that will contribute to the restart of tourism and travelling within EU: the Digital COVID Certificate, which is already accepted by the 27 European countries.

As a member of the European Economic and Social Committee, I strongly supported this initiative that will facilitate the restart of tourism.

Greek tourism appears be the big protagonist of the next day. The pandemic has crippled global tourism, but there’s been a growing demand for a sustainable reboot of the sector as a whole.”

* This Op-Ed originally appeared in the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) annual printed edition for 2021. Press here for more information.

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