That’s the first good news bit, right? Yes, Greece is planning to welcome visitors back this summer, but much like other European neighbors the country is figuring out how to make things not only better, but safer than ever.
Both the Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis have been vocal in recent weeks, setting out clear guidelines and ideas for summer 2021 and how the country plans to deploy technology to help screen potential visitors, while creating a friendly welcome. It’s a promising summer, without a doubt.
Greece Plans For Summer 2021 Tourism
First things first – Greece doesn’t plan to require vaccination for covid-19 as a requirement to enter the country this summer. Greece is working hard to vaccinate its own people as rapidly as possible, but sees mandatory vaccination as an unnecessary hurdle.
At the same time, Greece is pushing for the EU to create a standardized vaccination certificate, with enhanced security measures, so that anyone who has been vaccinated can travel around the world yet again, with greater ease.
It’s one of the ‘3 key’ things Greece sees to unlocking safe travel again: vaccination data sharing across borders, rapid testing and vaccination.
Many countries have already changed border policies for travel to allow entry for anyone who’s had both vaccination jabs, regardless of where they’re from, in a sign travel may rebound much faster than many think. Key issues remain about securely validating each certificate, and developing trusted standards for certificates.
3 Keys To Greek Tourism Reboot
Greece currently requires a PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure for eligible visitors, and that may potentially continue into summer.
But during an address to the UNWTO, the Tourism Council of the United Nations, the country joined others including Spain, in stating that rapid antigen testing is the most important development in adding additional layers of safety, without ruining the travel experience until vaccinations reach critical mass.
It’s also the key to opening up borders by summer, allowing for the billions in vital spending travel brings. Over 300 million people around the world work in travel and tourism related roles, and Greece alone has more than 380,000 people in the sector.
Health experts at The Mayo Clinic estimate that with a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure, rapid testing prior to departure and rapid testing on arrival, the chances of someone slipping through the cracks as positive could be up around 1 in a million. With a singular PCR test within 72 hours of departure, it’s closer to 1:1,000.
Is Greece Opening To Americans Or Non Europeans?
Greece hasn’t yet specified exactly which visitors outside of the EU, and Europe’s permitted list of outside countries will be eligible, but there’s been interesting airline developments which suggest a return of US visitors is at least possible.
American Airlines announced plans this week to fly between New York and Athens from June 2021, adding major competition to Emirates, which flies from New York’s Newark International to Athens. Both flights are now on sale. It’s unlikely American would’ve announced such a route launch in these challenging times without some assurance it would become viable.
Greece is also expected to reintroduce travel between areas of the country shortly, which will make shuttling between islands and prefectures much easier as travel rebounds. Further news on which visitors will be eligible this summer is expected by March, to help with more concrete planning, once vaccine rollout is more stable.
To stay on top of the most accurate and up to the minute news on any new rules and restrictions to enter Greece, be sure to use the IATA Travel tool, which is based on the official rules airlines see at check in.