The government is feverishly preparing its strategy for the start of the new tourism season despite the major worries the pandemic continues to generate across the country. This is because when conditions allow it in Greece and abroad, the Prime Minister’s Office wants Greece to be able to open up to tourism in an assertive fashion.
The model on which the government is currently working provides for the opening of the borders through fast-lane procedures for those with vaccination certificates and rapid tests for the rest. This means that all incoming travelers will be screened. That is possible for this year given the wide availability of tests that offer rapid results, and the airline and tourism industries are pushing for a protocol to that effect.
The government is also considering a proposal for acknowledging the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, so that Greece can attract visitors from Russia too, who last year amounted to virtually zero.
Regarding the strategy for promotional campaigns abroad, priority will be granted to the three major markets of Greek tourism: Europe (the UK included), the US and Russia.
The vaccination certificates, which constitute the cornerstone of the government’s planning, may enjoy the open support of the European Commission but run into the reservations of major capitals such as Berlin and Rome, who seek to keep the bulk of their citizens’ tourism expenditure within their borders. This is the reason consultations about the adoption and implementation of a European health passport – whose authenticity could be cross-checked electronically – is advancing at a slow pace, as sources from the Greek government and the international tourism industry explain to Kathimerini.
The second pillar of the Greek plan to attract tourists provides for bilateral agreements such as that set to be confirmed with Israel, allowing for the mutual exchange of travelers between signatory countries. Some people say these deals are the only way for tourism to grow this summer, given the reluctance among major European states to approve a Europe-wide vaccination certificate.