While Mexico has been the king of tourism throughout the pandemic, Greece is quickly becoming a contender for top destination this summer. Greece has made some impressive and forward-thinking amendments to their entry requirements that is streamlining the return of tourists, with even more barriers being removed within the next few weeks.
Greece attracted over 31 million arrivals in 2019 and while it won’t see nearly that amount in 2021, Greece is positioning itself to be this summer’s hot spot. As of mid-May, Greece will be one of the very few countries open for tourism worldwide to all nations accepting proof of vaccination for entry instead of testing/quarantines, which will attract restless tourists who still find themselves shut out from many other destinations.
Tourists from all countries will soon be allowed in Greece
Greece is set to reopen to all international tourists on May 15, 2021
Fragakis, The Secretary-General of the Greek National Tourist Organisation (GNTO) stated “the timely and safe opening of tourism on May 15 is a priority for the government.” With Greece being so heavily reliant on tourism, officials at all levels across the country are vocalizing their support for fully reopening the nation.
Tourists from all countries will be permitted to enter as of May 15th, providing they can show proof of a negative 72-hour PCR test, or proof of being fully vaccinated. The Greek government has also noted that rapid tests could be performed at random on foreign tourists as they arrive at airports.
“The vaccines, the self-tests and the better weather make us confident that this unprecedented adventure is ending,” Prime Minister Mitsotakis said about his positive outlook for reopening May 15th.
Greece tourism 2021 – American tourists get early-access to Greece
On April 19, Greece reopened early for American tourists, along with travelers from the United Kingdom, Serbia, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates, as a ‘test run’ for their upcoming general tourism launch on May 15.
American tourists need to prove proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test to enter but are currently allowed to visit ahead of many other nations.
Proof of vaccinated is defined by the Greek government as: “If the traveler has completed his/her vaccination (i.e. 14 days have elapsed since the last vaccination, depending on the doses required) and is in a position to confirm it by presenting the relevant vaccination certificate, then proof of a negative test is not required.”
Americans who are not vaccinated are still welcome to visit Greece for tourism as of April 19, 2021, but they must bring proof of a negative PCR test, performed no longer than 72 hours before arrival.
Return of Cruising to Greece in June
Not only is Greece making big changes to allowing tourists in by air, but is making arguably the largest cruise rebound the world industry has seen in over a year.
Gene Sloan from The Points Guy wrote “it’s looking increasingly like Greece is going to be the big hub for the initial comeback of summer cruising.”
Greece will see the return of cruise ships not only sailing from Greek ports but will welcome ships visiting various ports throughout the country. Starting in June, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Celestyal, Aida, TUI, Hapag-Lloyd, Costa, Silversea, Seabourn, and Norwegian all have departures or itinerary stops in Greece.
Greece is amping up vaccines
Greece’s Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis says he’s optimistic about Greece’s reopening on May 15, as the country has sped up vaccinations for workers in specific industries, like those on the front lines of tourism.
From April 27, Greece is planning to open up vaccinations to all residents 30 years and older with Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis stating vaccinations should be emphasized at every opportunity, not only for human lives but also for the economy.
Georgiadis is aiming for “5.5 million vaccinations to build a strong wall of immunity.” for the upcoming reopening of tourism. Currently, Greece has around 20% or just over 2 million people who’ve received at least their first shot of the vaccine.
But is everything open in Greece?
Greece is still in varying phases of lockdown, which might come as a surprise to visitors who are currently permitted to enter.
Officials say the lockdown is still in place and will remain until the last moment before reopening to give them the best fighting chance of having a successful reopening come May 15th.
Currently, Greece still has a 9:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew in effect throughout the entire nation. Outside of curfew times, movement is only permitted for essential reasons like buying essential supplies, exercise, or attending a medical appointment, which also requires an SMS message to be sent to officials prior to leaving the house/hotel. Many non-essential businesses are still closed, gatherings are banned, and restaurants are only open for delivery or takeout, which doesn’t really spell out ‘vacation-mode’ for visitors.
However, more relaxed rules are just on the horizon.
PM Mitsotakis has announced a reopening roadmap, dependent on there not being another surge in infections, but that will see many of the current restrictions removed.
Greece’s Reopening Schedule
May 3: restaurants open for outdoor dining
May 3: curfew extended from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm
May 10: schools to reopen
May 15: Official tourism reopening: countrywide and intercity travel resumes, cultural activities and attractions to reopen, the possibility of further relaxing curfew and/or essential movement restrictions
If Greece can stick to their vaccination schedule and reopening roadmap, restrictions may be lifted entirely in late May or early June, truly inaugurating a season of successful tourism.
Come June, Greece will see the return of direct flights from the U.S., ferry lines connecting inter-island travel, cruise ships departing from and visiting various ports, and many attractions open for enjoyment. Combine that with hot temperatures, sunny skies, and eager tourism providers rolling out the red carpet for visitors, Greece has the opportunity to be the top travel destination this summer. / traveloffpath