«All you want is Greece» - Season Opening on May 14th
At the International Tourism Exhibition Berlin Greece presented its plans for the season 2021. It should start on May 14th, if the pandemic situation allows it.
Greece's Tourism Minister Charis Theocharis' plans are ambitious: After a difficult year, holiday-hungry people should be able to laugh and live again. «All they want is Greece» is the slogan which this project is based on. Theocharis presented it online at this year's International Tourism Exchange Berlin (ITB).
Season shall start on May 14th
The 2021 season is scheduled to open on May 14th. The Minister of Tourism emphasizes though, that the specific date depends on the development of the pandemic. If the situation allows, attempts will be made by the government to gradually reduce measures by then.
At the moment, Greece registers around 2500 infections a day, with a slight upward trend (2570 on March 11th). In Crete, the number of cases has been higher than ever for a few days, with the Heraklion district being particularly affected (85 on March 11th). Almost 120 people currently are being treated for Covid in Crete's hospitals, as the newspaper Rethnea reports.
Security for the tourists
Even if the pandemic situation eases, vacations in Greece will again be tied to conditions in the second year of the pandemic. According to Minister Theocharis, only those who have already been vaccinated or who can present a current PCR or antibody test shall enter the the country.
Tourists shall enjoy their vacation as safe as possible. Greece's Ministry of Health therefore has announced the strengthening of hospitals and health centers in tourist regions with more staff. Employees in the tourism sector would have the opportunity to get vaccinated immediately after the risk groups.
As in the previous season, Greece is also relying on an extensive test strategy at airports in 2021. Rapid tests would now ensure that tests can be carried out more easily and effectively, according to Theocharis. Those who test positive can now go directly to the quarantine hotel due to the quicker results. Nobody will be forced to wait for the result in their own hotel room.
However, the quarantine does not save those who tested positive this year either. The health minister emphasized that in terms of measures the same rules apply to tourists as to the Greeks. Furthermore, the Greek state takes over the transport and accommodation costs in case of quarantine.
Crete's hoteliers remain skeptical
Minister Theocharis looks forward to the coming season with confidence. He stated the demand for a relaxed holiday in Greece is already increasing in countries with advanced vaccination campaigns. The Ministry of Health is even considering extending the season into winter.
The representatives of the Cretan hotel industry seem a little more skeptical. Manolis Varkarakis, President of the Hotel Association for the Lassithi Region, recently pointed out in an interview on Radio Kriti (here) that a lot depends on the progress of the vaccination campaigns. The decisive factor will be whether and which airlines would fly to Crete at all.
In Agios Nikolaos, the largest city of the Lassithi, there has been no preparation for a possible season due to the uncertainties. Reservations for Crete have not yet been made either, said Varkarakis.
Nevertheless, there are also optimistic voices in Crete: the preparations in the hotels in and around Ierapetra have already begun, says George Vardakis, the president of the hoteliers in Ierapetra, in the same interview.