Greece developing three-point plan for restarting tourism


Greece is developing a three-point plan to help reopen the country to tourism after arrivals came to a halt as a result of nationwide lockdowns and extensive flight bans aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

The key components of the plan for restarting tourism, which makes up about 18 percent of the country’s economy, were presented to lawmakers in Parliament on Monday night by Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis.

The first part of the plan, which is expected to be hammered out by technical teams from the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry by May 8, centers on special health safety protocols designed for hotels, marinas, pleasure yachts, tour buses, airplanes and other areas where tourists congregate.

Diplomatic contacts form the second part of the plan, with Greece holding talks with the governments of major tourist markets on the steps that will be needed to resume incoming and outbound flights, including health protocols.

“If the German, Russian or American governments quarantine everyone returning from our country, then no tourists will come. What is required is diplomacy,” Theocharis said, adding that domestic tourism will also be bolstered.

The third part of the plan involves a new public advertising campaign promoting Greece as a destination and contacts with international tour operators and media to enhance the country’s image.

In an interview broadcast by CNN on Monday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis estimated that Greece would be ready to reopen to tourists on July 1 if the easing of lockdown measures launched this week continues to proceed smoothly and strict health regulations are implemented.

“The tourism experience this summer may be slightly different from what you’ve had in previous years, with more social distancing, maybe no bars open but you can still get a fantastic experience in Greece provided that the global epidemic is on a downward path,” the prime minister told CNN.