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As COVID Surges, Greece Wants UK Tourists, Says Country Safe

Αssociated Press

In this Tuesday, June 9, 2020 photo, visitors sit in bars in an area known as Little Venice on the Greek island of Mykonos. (AP Photo/Derek Gatopoulos)

A simultaneous plan to save the economy and hold down COVID-19 cases note working, Greece wants the United Kingdom to declare the country safe for visitors from there.

Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis urged the UK government not to keep Greece on the Amber List category for travel, which would mean they would have to quarantine on return home, meaning almost no one would come to Greece.

British holidaymakers are hesitating to travel abroad since the quarantine rules on their way back home can change even for vaccinated travellers due to a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported.

Nearly 2,700 positive cases with Coronavirus were reported in Greece in a week, a 700 percent jump over the previous three weeks as a vaccination campaign has stalled and tourists from many countries have been allowed in.

But Greece’s 14-day positive cases rate per 100,000 citizens is at 167 compared to the UK’s rate of 440 and Theoharis said, “Greece is a safe country. The vaccination drive and program continues unabated,” even as it lags.

He said that 60 percent of the country has been vaccinated, but less than half are fully vaccinated, with tourism workers on islands not being required to have the shot even as it spreads there, although island populatons were supposed to become free of the Coronavirus.

Tourism brings in as much as 18-20 percent of Greece's annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 170.19 billion euros ($200.3 billion) and had been on a record run of consecutive years before the pandemic struck in 2020.

Arrivals in June from Germany, France and Poland raised the number of visitors to around 50 percent of 2019 levels and the numbers have gone up again in July even as the Delta Variant took hold and islands became more infected.

As SchengenVisaInfo.com previously reported, Denmark removed Greece from the list of safe countries due to the high rates of Coronavirus infection detected, to Theoharis' insistence Greece is okay for tourists.

After Germany – also making it tough for people to leave the country, wanting to keep them there to spend - The United Kingdom is the most important market for tourists in Greece, with almost 3.5 million a year, and big spenders.

While Americans and the significant Greek-American population have been allowed back this year, the United States ranks only 12th in arrivals annually in Greece, which this year had been a hot spot before the virus surged again.