Greek Prime Minister: "I am interested in making Greece the safest destination in Europe"
Addressing correspondents of international media at the iconic island of Santorini in Greece on Saturday evening, the Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke about how the summer tourism season will officially reopen on Monday 15 June and presented his detailed insight on the government's plan for the next day in the country's most prominent industry, after the coronavirus pandemic.
Taking each to his own podium at the Greek Summer 2020 press conference, the Greek Premier and his advisor Thanassis Bakolas effectively launched the tourism season with Bakolas stating that Greece managed to impressively contain the pandemic and welcomed all the attendees to "the Greek summer," he exclaimed.
Mitsotakis said that nothing is the same after the pandemic and the fact that there can actually be a tourism season this year to begin with, is the result of hard work which will ensure that this summer is safe for all, including visitors and workers in the tourism sector. Putting the emphasis on tourism workers, he said that "a lot of money was spent to support our tourism sector, to make sure that they can survive this summer," he stressed, as the government put in place flexible working arrangements to protect hotel employees and also paid their social insurance contributions. On encouraging domestic tourism, he referred to a voucher program to support Greeks who qualify due to low incomes.
Successfully confronting the coronavirus crisis opened a new chapter that shows Greece now plays an important role in the heart of the European continent, he said, as dealing with it had everyone involved work hard to ensure that visitors stay safe and healthy, and he mentioned the country's readiness to tackle any coronavirus cases, should there be any. Preparing to launch the tourism season on June 15 was almost entirely based on the advice of health experts, he said.
"We need to continue to do the right thing," he said in reference to standing health safety protocols and restrictive measures against the coronavirus, as "we will be very strict when it comes to the basic parameters and guidelines that we put in place" for the tourism and hospitality sector, he assured all.
Yet the challenge is to shift from successfully combating the pandemic domestically to repeating the success in opening up to the rest of the world, he highlighted.
Looking ahead, he hoped that "If everything goes according to plan and by 2021 we have a vaccine or a treatment, 2021 is going to be a bumper year," he exclaimed.
He noted that last year Greece welcomed 33 million tourists, but this year "we will have to work on a fraction of that number." It matters how comfortable people feel getting on a plane and flying to Greece or taking the car and driving to Greece, and mentioned that there's more than 10 million people who come to Greece by car each year; "not everyone comes to Greece by airplane, so a lot will depend on our ability to project that Greece is a safe destination," said the Greek Premier.
"I'm interested in making Greece the number one destination in Europe, the safest destination in Europe," the Prime Minister noted.
The Prime Minister also paid special attention to climate change and the need to protect Greece's unique natural environment by promoting sustainable tourism in the context of the country's unique natural environment, its special cultural heritage and the merited agri-food sector, as he said.
Tourism in Greece must focus on quality services, sustainability, and also offer incentives to people who want to invest in Greece. As the country has not focused so much on heavy industry, its natural environment, land and seas, are free of industrial pollution. This is why this government intends to render Greece a leading country in sustainable tourism, he asserted.
"We've demonstrated that the state can actually operate at a very high level," Mitsotakis said in his closing remarks, and expressed his gratitude about what he called the people's trust in his government, in the country's national health system and all the authorities that were involved in both protecting citizens and preparing the country for reopening to tourism.
"This is a very important legacy that we need to build upon," the Greek Prime Minister concluded. (Source: ANA-MPA)
Greece is ready once again to welcome the world. Here is how:
(official announcement of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s)
Phase 1 – Until 15 June
- International flights are allowed only into Athens airport.
- All visitors are tested upon arrival and are required to stay overnight at a designated hotel. If the test is negative, then the passenger self-quarantines for 7 days. If the test is positive, the passenger is quarantined under supervision for 14 days.
Phase 2 – Bridge phase- 15 June to 30 June
- International flights are allowed into Athens and Thessaloniki airports.
- If your travel originated from an airport not in the EASA affected area list, then you are only subject to random tests upon arrival.
- If you originate from an airport on the EASA affected area list, then you will be tested upon arrival. An overnight stay at a designated hotel is required. If the test is negative then the passenger self-quarantines for 7 days. If the test is positive, the passenger is quarantined under supervision for 14 days.
Phase 3 – 1 July onwards
- International flights are allowed into all airports in Greece.
- Visitors are subject to random tests upon arrival.
- Additional restrictions regarding certain countries will be announced at a later date.
- Land border arrivals from Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria will be allowed as of 15 June. Visitors will be subject to random tests upon arrival.
- Arrivals by sea will be allowed as of 1 July. Visitors will be subject to random tests upon arrival.
- Greece at any stage retains the right to modify any of the above in light of changing circumstances.
What will change on 15 June 2020?
- 15 June inaugurates the gradual return to normalcy. Compulsory testing and quarantine will be limited only to travelers, irrespective of nationality, arriving from airports of affected areas with high risk of transmission of the Covid-19 infection, as assessed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The list is constantly updated and travelers should check before traveling.
- All other travelers will enter restriction-free and may be subject to random tests upon arrival.
What will change on 1 July 2020?
- All travelers will be subject to random tests upon arrival. Additional restrictions regarding certain countries will be announced at a later date.
The same rules apply whether travel is completed directly point-to-point or via transit.