Greece Is Cutting Airfares To Encourage Tourists To Visit

As the world sees COVID-19 stay-at-home and lockdown orders starting to ease, nations are making plans to get their economies going again.

For Greece, that means figuring out how to safely welcome tourists back to its shores, as tourism accounts for roughly 20% of its GDP, the BBC reported.

In 2019, Greece welcomed about 33 million tourists to its shores, who added 19 billion euros to its economy, so it's critical that the nation be able to bring visitors back, and do it safely. But of course, Greece also wants to open up to tourists as soon as possible, too.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis actually moved up the nation's target date to start welcoming tourists back.

Unsplash | Arthur Yeti

Initially planning on officially re-opening to visitors on July 1, Mitsotakis announced that Greece would instead re-open on June 15, CNN reported.

And, while other nations might be adopting strict measures to prevent further virus spread from tourism in their re-opening plans, Greece isn't planning on requiring visitors to take tests or quarantine themselves upon entering the country, provided they aren't coming from a place with a large, active coronavirus presence.

Greece has done an enviable job of managing the pandemic so far.

Unsplash | Nick Karvounis

Whereas other European nations like Italy, France, Spain, and Belgium have all been hard bit by the virus, Greece has seen remarkably low numbers, with just over 3,000 cases and 180 deaths so far, according to Johns Hopkins, just 1.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

Mitsotakis is planning on those low numbers acting as a "passport of safety, credibility, and health" for prospective visitors.

That means that the nation can take some less restrictive measures than other nations.

Unsplash | Theodoris Katis

But that's not to say that they won't be taking any precautions whatsoever.

As Mitsotakis said, according to CNN, "The tourism experience this summer may be slightly different from what you've had in previous years. Maybe no bars may be open, or no tight crowds, but you can still get a fantastic experience in Greece — provided that the global epidemic is on a downward path."

While tourists shouldn't expect to be swabbed or have their temperatures taken at the airport, there will be a long list of changes taken to ensure social distancing.


Hotels will be open at capacity, but they'll also have more medical staff on hand and reception desks will be moved outdoors, and rooms will get more time between guests to be cleaned and aired out. Pools will operate at less capacity, however, as will bars and restaurants, and beaches will look much different with large group gatherings and contact sports banned.

Also, tourists might be subject to spot tests, but hotel supervisors have all received training on how to handle an outbreak.

With some tourism marketing officials suggesting positioning Greece as a place to "heal" from the pandemic, the nation is going to great lengths to get visitors to come back.

Unsplash | Erica Magugliani

And that includes lower travel costs, with the country cutting the federal tax on travel from 24% to 13% - so flights into Greece will be noticeably cheaper. Not only that, but it will be less expensive to get around once there, too, as the tax cut applies to buses, trains, and other flights inside the country.

"Let us make this summer the epilogue of the [Covid-19] crisis," Mitsotakis said. "We will win the economic battle just like we won the health one."

h/t: BBC, CNN

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