Greece will restart its tourism season on June 15 in a key boost to the economy after the virus lockdown, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Wednesday, adding that international flights would resume on July 1.
Speaking Wednesday in a televised address to the nation, Mitsotakis said visitors would be subject to sample coronavirus testing and “our general health protocols will be adhered to, without them, however, overshadowing our bright sun or the natural beauties of Greece.”
With Greece suffering fewer than 170 COVID-19 deaths over two months into the pandemic, Mitsotakis said the country’s prompt response to the virus would be a “passport of safety, credibility and health” to attract visitors.
Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis said a list of nations resuming flights to Greece would be announced by the end of May, noting that Athens would focus on reviving a travel front “from the Balkans to the Baltic.”
Bulgarians and northern Europeans including Germans will be among the first visitors, the minister said, in addition to Israelis and Cypriots.
Incoming travelers will not be required to undergo virus testing or quarantine, but sample tests will be carried out in tourist areas, the minister said.
Theocharis added that 600 beds would be specifically set aside for coronavirus care on Greek islands.
Tourism is a vital part of the economy, contributing more than 10% of GDP, and authorities have been anxious to ensure the entire summer season isn’t lost.
Mitsotakis’ government imposed a lockdown very early in Greece’s outbreak, which has been credited with keeping the number of deaths and critically ill people at very low levels.
On Wednesday, health authorities announced one new death and 10 new confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of dead to 166 and the total confirmed cases to 2,850 in the country of nearly 11 million people.