Australians and other non-EU tourists could be in Greece sooner than you think

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The Commission's long-awaited plan to open the tourist season in Greece was announced on Wednesday and did not make us anymore the wiser, Ethnos reported.

Ultimately, the plan was nothing more than a set of guidelines for member states, with final decisions on opening the borders and individual ways to remove the lockdown. Under these circumstances, Greece has a difficult situation to balance so that the Greek economy can survive from tourist revenues in the midst of reservations from experts who warn about the lifting of measures.

As the Commission's recommendation package was announced, attention is now focused on Greece, with the institutions awaiting the publication of the plan for the resumption of activities.

Speaking to ERT yesterday, government spokesman Stelios Petsas, said "It will be a coherent, comprehensive plan for a very important country for international tourism. Everyone is waiting for our plan to see what aspects they can adapt to their own data."

In this context, the Minister left open the possibility of opening smaller accommodation and hotels earlier, but always with the advice and consent of experts. Greece is throwing away the paperwork of bilateral agreements with other countries, given that the restrictions on air travel from all EU countries will not be lifted at the start of the tourist season.

"There are also bilateral agreements on the table, we have been working for them for a long time. The relevant Ministry of Tourism is making the necessary preparations. There are several countries, not only European ones, that we are talking to and we will come to a conclusion when we present our plan to the Greek citizens and internationally," Petsas noted.

According to a STAR report, the agreement with Israel for a flight to and from the country has been locked for the beginning of July, perhaps a little earlier. Talks are also under way with Russia, Germany, Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Norway, the Czech Republic and Australia.

In this context, it is worth noting that German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has stated that there is currently no agreement between his country and Greece. However, from June, Lufthansa will start flights to tourist destinations.

Greece has set a condition though - to do a coronavirus test up to 72 hours before the trip, which they have proposed to the European Commission.

On the other hand, with the data so far, tourists from Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain and Sweden will not be accepted. These are countries that may have supplied Greece with many tourists in previous years, but in the battle against coronavirus, they have received a low grade.

In addition, the government is preparing special health protocols for hotels, marinas, airplanes, tourist buses, yachting, coastal shipping and the country's entry gates.

The Commission's announcements certainly unlock developments for the next phases. However, the tourism operators are particularly concerned.

Speaking to MEGA, the President of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers, Grigoris Tassios, noted: "We see an ambiguity about the so-called tests. We need to see how we can fortify ourselves. The Commission has set a general framework and we must try to see intergovernmental agreements. We come to the reality of the country, the season is difficult to realise. We have to prepare for difficult conditions."

For his part, the President of the Hotel Chamber of Greece, Alexandros Vasilikos, made the following statement: "The current recommendations of the Commission confirm categorically three things. First, the importance of tourism for all European economies. Second, the breadth and depth of the problems facing all businesses in the hospitality industry. Third, the immediate need to restart tourism."