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Politics

Skertsos to BBC: Greece Feels Ready for the Start of the Tourist Season

ATHENS — Greece feels ready for the start of the tourist season, Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Akis Skertsos said in two interviews with the BBC (to World News and Newsday), while he also fielded questions about the National Recovery and Resilience Plan 'Greece 2.0'.

He pointed to the very successful management of tourist flows in 2020, which had helped keep Covid cases to a minimum over the summer, noting that this system would now be further boosted by the ongoing vaccination programme that was making rapid progress.

"We believe that by the end of June, almost 50 pct of the adult population of the country will be vaccinated, in which case we will have built a significant wall of immunity and will be able to receive tourists from Britain and the rest of Europe," he said.

Asked about the validity of vaccination certificates supplied by visitors, Skertsos said that there was an agreement with Greece's European partners for a "green vaccination card" system, which will indicate whether the holder has been genuinely vaccinated. Otherwise, visitors must have a negative test result attached to their PLF form, which they must complete before visiting Greece.

He said the EU's green certificate could also be a forerunner to an international anti-Covid certificate, while for non-EU visitors, such as those from Britain, he said they must attach a vaccination certificate or negative test to their PLF form a short time before arrival.

On the 'Greece 2.0' plan, he said that Greece was the second country after Portugal to submit its plan and had worked closely with its European partners in its preparation. He described it as an ambitious plan that aimed to transform the country, its economy and society, through 175 significant investments that will make it greener, more digital, fairer, more open, productive and innovative. It was named "Greece 2.0" because "we consider it can help create a better version of our country," he added.

Skertsos said that the plan had been widely praised and was extremely detailed and well worked out, based on the proposals of Nobel laureate economist Christopher Pissarides and his team, running to 4,000 pages. It included specific EU recommendations on how to make Greece's economy more productive and sustainable and to tackle long-running problems of previous years, he added.

Having learned from the 10-year economic crisis, Skertsos said, Greece was now setting in motion its own plan of reforms that had Greek "ownership" and knew exactly what needed to change, with the Bank of Greece estimating that this funding can lead to a 7 pct jump in GDP and 200,000 new jobs in the next five to six years.

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