Greece Pushes For Liberal Tourism Opening


Greece has been at the forefront of the push for Covid-19 vaccine passports and the country wants mass tourism to resume in time for the key summer months.

The country’s tourism minister recently talked up the possibility of a tourism link with the UK, that could even include those who haven’t been vaccinated as long as they can provide a negative test. "We feel that the vaccination programmes is a game changer, together with rapid tests and alongside PCR tests,” Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis told ITV News.  "We feel that vaccination means someone with the required certificates which will be issued by the government will mean you don't need to have a negative test before the flight.  "But it doesn't mean that only vaccinated people can travel. We still have the option of a negative test for those who haven't had a vaccine."

The UK has one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world and Greece has already shown its inclination to work with countries that have vaccinated a significant proportion of their population. Last month it announced a deal with Israel, that would allow tourists with vaccine certificates to move freely in each country.

Greece has already developed a certification system of its own to show that someone has been vaccinated but is also one of a number of European Union member countries arguing for the bloc to adopt a vaccine passport system.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said on Monday that “a legislative proposal” would be submitted this month for what she subsequently called a “Digital Green Pass”. “The Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans‘ lives. The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism,” she said.

Not every EU member is as keen on the idea of vaccine passports. France and Germany in particular are thought to be more reluctant. For Greece and others like Spain, however, the chance to safely welcome back millions of tourists over the peak summer months is something that would make a big difference to their coronavirus-battered economies.

Tourism directly contributed €23.4 billion to the Greek economy in 2019 and made up 12.5 percent of the country’s GDP. The figures for 2020 are likely to be substantially lower than this.