The news that Greece will open its doors to overseas holidaymakers from July 1, met mixed reviews from the people on the street here on Crete. Many are thrilled that the 2020 touristic season will not be a total bust. However, there are concerns that a second wave of coronavirus might be fueled by international arrivals. The government’s announcement that the UK is not yet on a list of countries allowed back in, rings out with a note of caution and clarity.
Greece officials say this year’s delayed tourist season will begin on June 15 with the opening of seasonal hotels. Then, on July 1st, international flights will be able to fly directly to Greece’s main tourist destinations. The countries initially selected for the tourism 2020 list, according to Athens, are based on “epidemiological criteria” determined by Greece’s pandemic committee of experts.
As for Britain, Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis told ITV recently, that the UK’s record on coronavirus is currently not good enough. The news is a sharp blow to Greece tourism-related businesses since almost 3 million UK travelers typically visit the country each season.
According to Theoharis, Greece is using an abundance of care, and he thinks there’s a wide gulf of difference between UK measures and those his country is deploying. The tourism minister also said he will wait to see of the UK’s record improves in the coming weeks. A few days ago, Athens announced a plan with 10 other EU states to create a recovery reconnect zone for European partners.
According to Greek Reporter, the list of countries already deemed to have positive epidemiological data includes; Cyprus, Israel, Germany, China, Australia, Japan, Denmark, Austria, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Albania, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Norway.
Here on Crete, authorities have already begun to reopen public beaches and major touristic spots. The number of COVID-19 cases on Greece’s biggest island has been held to a bare minimum compared to almost anywhere in the world. Overall, Greece has been applauded for keeping the number of deaths and critically ill people to a minimum.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a TV audience that visitors would be subject to sample coronavirus testing, and the general health protocols will be adhered to. The prime minister also announced a reduction in consumer taxes on transport from 24% to 13%, which will lead to cheaper boat, plane, and bus tickets during the tourist season.