Toward health protocols for hotels, visitors

Toward health protocols for hotels, visitors

TUV Austria, TUV Hellas, SGS Hellas and Cosmocert are the four accreditation companies that the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) has authorized to draft integrated plans along with health and hygiene regulations for hotels and other accommodation units so as to contribute toward the government’s effort to restart Greek tourism.

The four enterprises, which are offering their services free of charge, are expected to deliver their plans by mid-May so an agreement can be reached with the scientific task force on the pandemic by end-May and year-round hotel units can resume operations in June, followed by seasonal hotels at a later date.

Still, not all hoteliers want to open their units under hospital-like conditions – as they themselves have said – and many would prefer not to open at all this year.

Furthermore, the existing distance between the positions of scientists and people in the business world on the central issue – i.e. when foreign visitors will be allowed back into the country and under what conditions – remains great.

A conference call late on Monday between government officials and tourism sector representatives opened with Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis referring to the task force created in cooperation with the National Public Health Organization (EODY) and the universities of Athens and Thessaly that are preparing the health protocols for the operation of tourism-related enterprises.

These protocols will be announced in the next few days, the ministry says, though everyone is aware that it will take an even greater effort and more political decisions before tourism can resume.

Meanwhile, SETE and its German, Italian and Norwegian peers have sent a letter to the head of the new tourism committee of the European Union, Thierry Breton, and all its members, as well as European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas.

They are calling for horizontal support to the tourism sector, on a European and a national level, from the second half of 2020, without having to wait for the financing tools of the 2021-27 funding period.

According to 2018 data, tourism contributes 9.7 percent of gross domestic product and employment in the eurozone. In Greece last year it directly accounted for 13 percent of GDP, with its total contribution exceeding 25 percent.

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