Greece plans return of foreign tourism after months of confinement



Greece hopes to save the rest of the tourist season with an ambitious plan that supports employment in the sector, reduces taxes and provides health protocols for domestic and foreign tourists, whom it hopes to attract thanks to its exemplary management of the coronavirus crisis.

Direct flights from abroad to Greek tourist destinations will begin gradually on July 1 and, with them, the arrival of tourists from other countries with only “minimal exceptions due to epidemiological criteria,” explained Tourism Minister Jaris Theojaris. .

The campsites will be able to open on June 1 and the seasonal hotels from June 15 to receive the first national holidaymakers.

Tourists arriving in Greece will do so without quarantine, but they may be subjected to random tests for coronavirus upon arrival and will have to follow a strict protocol of hygienic measures during their trip.

LESS TAXES AND SUBSIDIZED WAGES

The Greek Prime Minister, the conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced the plan of his Executive to support tourism and catering and which is part of the compendium of state aid, in the form of credits and tax breaks, which he has approved over the past few years. two and a half months to face the coronavirus crisis and whose total amount will amount to 24,000 million euros until October.

One of the measures announced by the Prime Minister to support the tourism and hospitality sector is the reduction of VAT from 24% to 13% on transport (includes train, metro, tram, city and intercity buses, planes and ships) between June and October, coffee, non-alcoholic drinks and open-air cinema tickets, a star activity of the Greek summers.

Tourism is the basis of the Greek economy, since it represents between 25% and 30% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The Government will subsidize the wages and social security contributions of tourism workers and, in addition, will present a program to support social domestic tourism aimed at the most vulnerable citizens.

In addition, the Minister of Labor, Yannis Vrutsis, stated that the Government will subsidize the monthly 120,000 seasonal workers until September who will not have a job in the tourism sector this year.

A LOW RATE OF CONTACTS, MAIN TOURIST CLAIM

“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.

So far, Greece has suffered only 166 coronavirus casualties and has registered a total of 2,850 cases, a contagion rate much lower than that of other European countries that has been achieved thanks to the taking of early measures and which the Government raises as one of the biggest attractions in the country this tourist season.

“Yes, we are in unknown waters. But we have shown, as a people, that we are not afraid of difficulties. Above all, we are not afraid to change. How many stereotypes have not collapsed these months? The Greek, who some said was individualistic , has become a conscious part of the collective effort, “Mitsotakis said.

The Prime Minister stressed that the main mission of the Government will be to protect public health, employment and “help industry professionals prepare their counterattack for 2021” and did not hide that, although the pandemic has been controlled until now, the risk Greece faces is “perhaps greater” than other countries, as the coronavirus “stopped the country’s course at a time when it was rapidly entering the path of development.”

Last year, Greece received 34 million visitors – of which 24.2 traveled to the country between April and September – thanks to which 19,000 million euros entered. Now, some optimistic forecasts estimate that only 7 or 8 million people will visit Greece this year.

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