Greece announced on Friday that it would be opening its borders to tourists from 29 countries on June 15, although Germany is the only country from the list of the five key markets for Greece’s tourism sector, as the UK, Italy, France and the US continue to have high rates of coronavirus infections.
According to the announcement by the Tourism Ministry, flights to Athens and Thessaloniki will resume on June 15 for the following countries: Albania, Australia, Austria, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, Japan, Israel, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Finland.
The inclusion on the list of China, where the new coronavirus originated, was a surprise to some, though the country has made huge strides in containing the pandemic, as has Australia. Meanwhile, many Greek hoteliers were disappointed that Poland was left off the list as last year 851,000 Poles visited Greece, bringing revenues of 416 million euros.
The list was compiled following an examination of the epidemiological data of each country and taking into consideration the announcements of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), as well as the recommendation of Greece’s Infectious Diseases Committee.
Visitors from the above countries will not be subject to quarantine while officials will conduct spot tests for Covid-19 at the airports. For all other countries, Greece’s current travel bans will continue to apply, although the list will be updated and expanded as of July 1, again based on the progress of the efforts by those countries to contain the pandemic.
With its critical tourism season already curtailed due to Covid-19, Greece is keen to open up to other countries as soon as possible so that losses can be recouped.
However, authorities are waiting for signs of improvement in other key markets for Greece, such as the UK and Italy, before visitors from there will be allowed to return.
Nevertheless, the revenues Greece expects to draw from residents of the 29 countries in the list is significant. A dozen of the countries on the list accounted for 6.1 billion euros in revenues last year, Kathimerini understands.