GREECE’S tourism minister has made a public announcement to Brits that they will be welcome to holiday in the country this summer.
The Greek holiday season is expected to start considerably later than usual – around July – but when they are open, tourists from the UK will be allowed in.
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The warm welcome is in stark contrast to several other popular holiday destinations, who have said that Brits will be back of the line when it comes to tourism.
Speak to Radio 4’s Today Programme, the Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis said: “We want people to come to Greece.
“Of course we will take precautions in terms of the requirements before travelling but also in terms of the way that [people] travel, the way that [people] stay and the beaches – the social distancing rules will apply.
“But we have welcomed tourists for more than 50 years and we want to continue showing the kind of hospitality that we’re very much known for.”
The Athens government is in talks with big UK tour operators aimed squarely at opening up resorts on islands that are especially popular with Brits.
But holidaymakers will have to pass tests before they are allowed to jet away to their favourite Greek holiday spot.
When asked about whether they would ask people to take coronavirus tests before flying, Mr Theoharis said: We’re discussing this with our epidemiologists.
“It is very likely that we will have some requirements before travelling, but of course this will be done so that everyone has a piece of mind when they travel that they will not come in contact with people who have the virus.
“By the time the season starts, which is going to be of course much later than the normal time, the health technology will have come up with even better solutions to those problems.
“Better tests, more accurate and cheaper as well.”
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Greece saw a record 33 million visitors last year, which brought €18.2 billion to the Greek economy – but numbers are expected to be drastically lower this year.
How the health certificates will work in practice has yet to be decided but senior Greek officials suggested the documents may involve passengers being subject to Covid-19 blood tests before boarding planes.
Emirates began successfully administering rapid on-site blood tests at Dubai International Airport, the carrier’s home base, earlier this month and is now planning to expand the measure to a broader selection of flights.
The Greek tourism minister has told his counterparts that EU member states should adopt a “common strategy of protocols and measures” that would apply to airports and airlines, hotels and restaurants to accelerate the sector’s return to normalcy.
Holiday resorts are likely to still have social distancing guidelines, as well as changes being made to airports and public transport.
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