COVID Pandemic Chills Greece’s Hopes for Winter Tourism

ATHENS – With winter resorts seeing downturns in bookings as the COVID-19 pandemic continued and got worse, the Tourism Ministry is pressing ahead with plans to try to attract foreign visitors year round.

The New Democracy government plans to to support winter and city-break destinations to get people to stay in Athens, Thessaloniki and other urban areas during the winter when islands aren’t attractive for most.

Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the goal of year-round tourism will be achieved as attractions other than sun, sand and beaches will be pitched, such as the winter resorts, and cultural activities.

Speaking to the state-run broadcaster ERT he said that the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) campaign for winter destinations across Greece will soon come out, the first ever.

He noted a decision by the European Union to allow for Value Added Tax (VAT) rates on Greek islands to be cut up to 30 percent although it came too late for the revenue-driving summer period.

With hopes for a boom year in 2022 – depending on the pandemic – he said that health measures would continue to stay in place to bring confidence to travelers that the country is safe despite a resurgence of the Coronavirus and restrictions on people who aren’t vaccinated and are still spreading it.

All countries are in tough competition but we have the pole position due to our actions and organization as regards health safety rules over the last two years,” Kikilias said.



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