Athens, May 20 (efe-epa).- Greece announced Wednesday that foreign tourists would be allowed in the Hellenic country from 1 July, when direct flights to tourist destinations in the peninsula are scheduled to gradually resume.
The Greek prime minister, conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced the news during a speech, in which he introduced his administration’s plan to relaunch tourism, which sits at the core of the Greek economy.
Seasonal hotels will be able to open as of June 15 to take in the first domestic holidaymakers.
Tourists arriving in Greece will not have to quarantine themselves, but they may be subjected to random coronavirus tests upon arrival and will have to follow a strict hygiene protocol during their trip.
“Our strength is the certificate of safety, reliability and health that our country has earned. Its great fame. The health shield, hospitality everywhere and, of course, the passion of the Greeks,” said Mitsotakis.
The prime minister also announced a series of measures to support the tourism and hospitality sectors as well as the reduction of VAT from 24% to 13% over the next 5 months on all public transport cards, coffee, non-alcoholic beverages and tickets to outdoor cinemas, one of the main activities during Greek summers.
The government is to subsidize wages and social security contributions of workers in the tourism sector and present a support program for domestic tourism thought for the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
The minister of labour, Yannis Vrutsis, said the executive would also finance, until September, 120,000 seasonal workers from the tourism sector who will find themselves jobless during the summer.
In 2019, Greece received 34 million visitors — of which 24.2 million travelled to the country between April and September. They brought with them a 19 billion euros of income for the Hellenic economy.
Now, some optimistic forecasts estimate that only 7 or 8 million people will visit Greece this year. EFE/EPA