Greece touts for tourists with season to start despite Covid

Athens (AFP) –


Greece is keen to see crowds of holiday-makers flooding back to its idyllic islands and has despatched the tourism minister to London to convince one of its biggest markets the country is safe.

Before the pandemic, 3.5 million British holiday-makers visited Greece in 2019 and Harry Theoharis said he will spend three days "promoting" the destination this week.

The United Kingdom has put Greece on its amber travel list for now, meaning British people returning home from Greece face at least five days in quarantine.

Tourism rakes in a as much as a quarter of Greece's annual income and Athens wants to persuade tour operators the country is safe to visit.

Theoharis will meet British junior foreign minister Nigel Adams to push the case for an easing of travel restrictions, a Greek statement said.

He will also have talks with British Airways, EasyJet and Jet2 which, the statement said, "have frequent flights to Greece, which is very important ... proof it's a safe destination".

Athens was one of the first European Union capitals, with Madrid, to back the idea of a vaccination certificate to enable mass travel to resume, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis noted Monday after talks with his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez.

"On May 14, the start of tourism and travel between (Greek) departments is an extremely important step," which coincides with the reopening of museums, said government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni.

Under partial lockdown since November 7, Greece is still recording more than 1,500 Covid-19 infections daily, mostly in Athens, along with dozens of deaths and hospitals are overwhelmed.

But it has since early April been gradually reopening non-essential shops and cafe terraces in a bid to kickstart tourism.

On Monday, all schools were allowed to reopen after six months' closure.

Student and teachers will have to self-test for the virus twice a week.

Nearly a month ago seven days of quarantine was lifted for travellers from the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Serbia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.