Greek tourism officials are cautiously optimistic about the possibility of salvaging part of this year’s tourist season after the official announcement of the German government on Wednesday to lift a travel directive issued in March.
At the same time, however, sources in the Greek tourism industry point out that no conclusions can be reached until one or two weeks of regular air travel have elapsed and flight frequencies and bookings have been determined.
Germany’s decision to lift its travel warning for European countries as of June 15 was announced on Wednesday by its Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
In 2019, four million German travelers came to Greece, where they spent close to 3 billion euros. This amount does not include money paid to agents and airlines. In other words, German visitors left an average of about 730 euros each within the Greek borders, which underscores the significance of Wednesday’s announcement.
“We have decided today that the travel warning for the named circle of countries will not be continued but replaced by travel advice,” Maas said, referring to European Union countries, Schengen countries and Britain.
Germany will issue travel advice on a total of 31 countries. Advice will be more favorable for countries with low coronavirus rates, such as Greece.
“We will provide the best available information on each country in our travel advice,” he said, adding that as of June 15, the guidelines will be updated daily or as needed.
Germany will also be watching the contagion data very carefully, he said and stressed that warnings could be reintroduced if new infections were to reach 50 per 100,000 people in a week in any particular country.
Several countries, such as Greece, have already begun reopening their borders in an effort to restart tourism.
Meanwhile, German tour operator TUI announced on Wednesday that it will resume flights to popular holiday destinations, with the first flight scheduled for Portugal on June 17.
“Our main destinations will be the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus,” said the head of TUI Germany, Marek Andryszak.
Maas noted that “travel warnings are not a travel ban and travel advice is not an invitation to travel.”
Germany maintained its travel warnings for Turkey, Ukraine and the Western Balkans after June 15.
The federal government will reconsider its travel policy abroad following an expected European Commission decision next week on whether to extend entry restrictions for third-country nationals, Maas said.
Other important markets for Greece, such as Britain, continue to advise or prohibit all unnecessary travel abroad.