The UK will have to improve its performance in tackling the coronavirus before being seen as a key source market for Greece as it opens up to tourism this summer.
THE Greek tourism minister Haris Theoharis confirmed that the UK’s record on the virus is currently not good enough for British holidaymakers to visit when direct flights restart in June.
The country’s prime minister announced plans to reopen for overseas tourists from July 1 when international flights will be able to serve Greek resorts following seasonal hotels resuming business from June 15.
Greece will announce a list of preferred countries from which visitors will be able to arrive in the country before the end of May. The choice will be based on “epidemiological criteria” as determined by Greece’s committee of experts dealing with the pandemic.
But Theoharis said Greece will be waiting for figures in the UK to improve before British travellers are allowed to return. The Balkan and Baltic countries, Germany and regional countries such as Israel and Cyprus are expected to be in the first wave of those whose citizens will be allowed to enter Greece, Theoharis said.
“I think that the UK has a big difference in terms of the current medical status of the country with Greece, so I don’t think it’s likely it will be there,” he said.
“Allowing tourism to return was clearly a calculated risk,” Theoharis said.
“How do we strike the right balance between protection and how do we preserve the core of the experience, because obviously people go on holiday to be free, carefree, to think about relaxation,” he said.
“And how do we do this keeping our infection numbers low and the strength of our health system [on a level] where it can deal not only with citizens but tourists as well.”
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday that visitors would be subject to sample coronavirus testing and “our general health protocols will be adhered to, without them, however, overshadowing our bright sun or the natural beauties of Greece.”