ATHENS – With most signs pointing to a banner year of tourists returning to Greece even during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, that’s also expected to be vaccinated Australians locked in their own country by health measures.
They’ve been trapped on the island almost two years, since the Coronavirus crisis began in March 2020 but it’s eased enough for the government to let them out, and with Greece lessening measures for entry for some countries.
After meeting with Australian Ambassador Arthur Spyrou, Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said he was glad to hear the door was open for Australians to come back to Greece, especially with a big Diaspora there.
“Australia will lift travel restrictions on vaccinated citizens from February 21, which is expected to significantly increase Australian tourist flows to Greece in 2022,” Kikilias said, reported SchengenVisaInfo.com.
He said they won’t have present a COVID-19 test on entering Greece although it wasn’t said if they need one to depart the country as some airlines require for boarding procedures.
Spyrou told the site that he, like Kikilias, sees Greece returning to the near-record levels of 2019 before international air travel was limited to almost a halt in 2020 and began picking up in 2021.
Spyrou pointed out that bookings’ figures show a big increase of Australian travelers planning to visit Greece and get off the island where they’ve been cooped up during the pandemic.
The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the number of Australian tourists had soared before the health crisis, with some 320,000 in 2017, a 70 percent jump over the previous year but didn’t estimate how many would come now.
Data from the Bank of Greece showed that the number of international arrivals increased by 96.8 percent from January-November 2021, compared to the same period in 2020, which was dire indeed.
Most of the increase came from Germans, whose numbers surged 95.2 percent, with 2.9 million of them coming to a favored destination, followed by 1.2 million French, a 148.6 percent jump.