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Economy

Greece “Laying Out Welcome Mat for Tourists”, Theoharis Tells Reuters

ATHENS — Greece is preparing to welcome tourists this summer, regardless of whether they have had a vaccination against Covid-19, Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis said in statements to Reuters reported on Friday. While Greece has led the call for the adoption of a digital 'vaccination certificate' to facilitate travel in the summer, it will open to visitors either way, Theoharis was reported as saying.

"People who are vaccinated, have tested negative or recovered from the disease and have antibodies are welcome to Greece and we will welcome them irrespective of any agreements," Theoharis told Reuters.

According to the news agency, Greek revenues from tourism plunged to four million euros in 2020, down from 18 billion euros in 2019, while just 7.4 million people travelled to Greece, down from 31.3 million the year before.

"We will have a better year than last year," Theoharis said. "This is not obvious now because the bookings are depressed… there's a lot of gloom, a lot of pessimism in the market, but I'm sure in the end my calculation is going to be correct."

Theoharis dismissed criticism that tourism increased new infections last year as "understandable … but completely unfounded."

"The second wave which engulfed all of Europe roughly at the end of October, beginning of November, came to Greece at exactly the same time, perhaps even a couple of weeks later," he said.

Residents of several Greek islands have been vaccinated and Greece plans to vaccinate all tourism workers by summer, after vulnerable groups. Those not vaccinated will be tested at least once a week, Theoharis said.

"We have to balance all concerns because we have people who are employed, we have people who need to find jobs," Theoharis said. "This year I think we have more tools in our arsenal."

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