ATHENS — In a boost to Greece’s hopes to salvage some kind of a summer season in the wake of the lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown, Germany said its residents are free to come, but they can’t travel to Turkey, a top competitor for tourists.
The German Foreign Ministry on Wednesday decided to include Turkey among the so-called high-risk areas of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that people traveling from Turkey to Germany must spend 14 days in quarantine.
That’s a tourism killer for Turkey although the country has seen a steady decline in the number of visitors from Germany who nonetheless say Turkey is one of their their top 10 favorite destinations.
In 2019, Turkey was rated the sixth most popular country in the world, drawing 45.7 million visitors which Greece had some 33 million, another record in a consecutive run of years.
That’s all ended for everyone in 2020 with the pandemic limiting international air traffic and Greece not opening fully to tourists on July 1, when regional airports will open after the main international airports outside Athens and Thessaloniki opened on June 15 but only to visitors from 29 countries with safe COVID-19 records.
In 2019, some four million German tourists spent about 3 billion euros ($3.36 billion,) a big chunk of the tourism sector that brings in as much as 18-20 percent of Greece’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 178.64 billion euros ($200.3 billion.)
World Tourism Organization data show that in 2019 some 2.7 million German visited Turkey, far below the 4.5 million of 2018 and the 5.4 million of 2015, a record year for German arrivals in Turkey.