ATHENS – The stubborn COVID-19 pandemic and slow vaccination rollout campaign isn’t cutting hopes for any real tourism in the spring for Greece, with eyes on hoping people will come for the summer high season.
But there is some belief in the New Democracy government, said Kathimerini, that there could be limited tourism as soon as April 1, depending on the epidemiological data in Greece and from countries that are big markets.
“If not from April 1, then in the following weeks and definitely before Greek Orthodox Easter on May 2,” sources not identified told the paper.
The government wants to reopen to tourists, the biggest revenue provider, to prop up an economy brought down hard by the Coronavirus and with uncertainty whether international air traffic will pick up.
Greece still hasn’t said whether visitors would be allowed from the key market of the United States and its vast Greek-American diaspora who were shut out of coming in 2020 when the pandemic kept them away.
Greece is still in a second lockdown that began Nov. 7, 2020 and just retightened after being eased, which saw cases rise, worry driven by variants appearing from the United Kingdom and South Africa.
But Israel’s vaccination program is proceeding, the country another big market for visitors to Greece, and there are expectations it’s working well enough in the hard-hit United Kingdom to see the British come again, another huge sector.
The government is examining plans to open up to incoming tourism this spring, provided that the infection rate in Greece will become stable and stricter measures can be avoided.
If cases in Greece abate and the European Union adopts Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ idea for airports to have fast-lane access setups for people with vaccination proof there are hopes it will see tourists coming, Greece a key 2021 destination.
The government hopes tourism will bring in 11 billion euros ($13.23 billion) this year the report said, more than twice the 4.5 billion euros ($5.41 billion) in takings in a disastrous 2020.
Several consecutive years of record runs before the pandemic had seen some 30 million visitors bringing in more than 35 billion euros ($42.1 billion) as the country’s biggest revenue provider.