The day finally arrived for many eager travellers.
Greece reopened Athens International Airport and Thessaloniki Airport “Makedonia” to more international flights, hoping to kick-start its vital tourism sector after three months in lockdown.
In Thessaloniki, the first flight from abroad landed at 13:30 from Munich, Germany, with 160 on board.
The Aegean Airlines flight was welcomed with a water arch salute, symbolically, as this usually the case during the reception of a “virgin” flight, as reported by Emea.
Deputy Minister of Civil Protection and Crisis Management, Nikos Hardalias and other dignitaries of the city, welcomed the first passengers.
According to Hardalias, all passengers arriving by June 30 will undergo a coronavirus test and then go to their destination.
Regarding the designated ‘Covid-19 hotel’, where travellers who test positive will be quarantined for 14 days, Hardalias said that it has not been designated yet in Thessaloniki. HE noted that this is the responsibility of the Tourism Ministry.
Michael Eleftheriadis, one passenger on board the flight told AMNA “everything happened very quickly, they took a saliva sample for examination and let us go to our destination.” Another passenger, Elias Tsingas added that “we were checked, we gave our full details and they told us that they would notify us when the results came out.”
“Greece is opening its gates to tourism today. Everything is ready, as the prime minister stressed from Santorini at the weekend, in order to receive visitors with safety,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas stated on Monday during a press briefing.
“We want Greece to be the safest tourist destination in Europe. We – government, businessmen and employees – are all moving based on this”, he added.
Petsas also stressed: “We all know that this summer will be different from the previous ones but we want the experience of contact with Greek culture to be as authentic as possible. As of today, we welcome tourists from airports in the list of the European Aviation Safety Agency with a low epidemiological burden.”
He added that random tests will be carried out at the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki by June 30. “Those who are tested will have to wait for the result – that is, for one day – in a hotel of their choice. In case someone is tested positive, he will stay in quarantine for 14 days.”
All other airports across the country will open to international flights on July 1.
Last week, Greece’s new tourism promotion campaign for the 2020 season was showcased, which is targeted to foreign audiences and social platforms abroad, to encourage tourists to come to Greece.