NEWS

Athens welcomes EU tourism roadmap for summer

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Tourism, Coronavirus

With the summer season around the corner, Greece was generally satisfied on Wednesday with the roadmap outlined by the European Commission regarding the resumption of tourism in the European Union.

“The Greek government welcomes the framework of guidelines and recommendations for tourism and transport presented by the European Commission today,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas said in a statement, adding that the formation of a common European framework was not a given. Greece played a key role in shaping the proposals, as it was the first country to raise the issue of tourism in the European public debate.

The EC proposals are nonbinding, and most European governments are pursuing their own customized plans at different speeds.

In a statement, the Commission said that “domestic and intra-EU tourism will prevail in the short term,” while non-essential travel to the bloc, like holidaymakers traveling from other countries, is set to remain disrupted for a longer period. 

The proposal also said that airlines and airports must reorganize check-ins, drop-offs and luggage pickups to avoid crowds, and insists that passengers wear masks.

The Greek government was particularly pleased that its position that there is no need to leave the middle seat empty on planes was adopted. According to the Greek proposals, vacant seats between passengers was initially a deterrent for the companies and therefore for the entire tourist product.

At the same time, the Commission’s position that the lifting of travel restrictions to countries will initially apply to those with fewer coronavirus cases is something that favors Greece. 

However, Athens’ proposal for tests to be conducted on travelers within a period of 72 hours before boarding the plane was not included in the Commission’s recommendations. The basic logic is that one can test negative and then contract the virus, in which case the 72-hour test would not help. 

In any case, Greece’s comprehensive plan for tourism will be made public next week and is expected to heed the Commission’s guidelines, even though each country maintains a degree of autonomy. 

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