As the summer season is coming to an end, the Greek Minister of Tourism, Haris Theocharis, has acclaimed the country’s performance during the season and pointed out that the country has welcomed more than six million tourists this year.
According to Theocharis, in July and August alone, the country is expected to exceed the two-million-visitors milestone, which hasn’t happened since 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“In fact, in July, for the first time, our country surpassed France itself as a favourite destination for the French. That is, the French travelled more to Greece than to their own country. This is a very important development,” Theocharis said.
He also noted that more than 450,000 French tourists visited the Greek islands this summer, which is a significant figure, considering the pandemic situation.
Speaking of domestic tourism, Theocharis also pointed out that an increase was detected, which had to happen for many years, considering the economic crisis Greece has been experiencing.
“They helped in this program ‘Tourism for All’, as well as the program Social Tourism. We intend to expand these programs as much as possible. We will use them as much as we can, we will keep them alive in the coming years because we saw that they had a substantial result,” Theocaris said, speaking of the tourism program, which will be valid until December 31.
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The program was announced in June, and its goal was to allocate a €30 million fund for 250,000 Greeks to be able to enjoy vacations in the islands.
Previously, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that Greece is extending its travel ban on domestic flights as the vaccination campaign has been lagging behind compared to other countries.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Greece has vaccinated 65.8 per cent of its population with the first dose of the COVID vaccine, whereas 63.4 per cent of the population has been fully immunised to the virus.
Regarding the vaccination issue, Thocharis said that those who don’t want to get vaccinated must oblige to other requirements such as frequent testing, wearing masks and respecting other hygiene measures.
“Vaccination is the only way to freedom not for others, but for ourselves and our immediate family environment, the people we love. We must protect them,” Theocaris said.
He also suggests that returning from big cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, the person must get tested upon return and get tested again in the next few days.
Recently, the Financial Times reported that Greece has been the champion of recovery in tourism since the country has welcomed the most tourists in Europe, about 25 per cent more than Spain, which is the country’s long time competitor in tourism.
At the same time, according to the Greek Aviation Authority, the air traffic during the first half of this year has increased by 146.8 compared to 2020. However, compared to the pre-pandemic levels, the figure has declined by 63.5 per cent.
These figures have been impacted not only by the country’s hospitality industry but also by the recognition of different vaccines. Greece is the country that recognises the highest number of vaccines in Europe, which means that travellers from all over the world inoculated with one of these vaccines, are allowed to travel to Greece and are also exempted from quarantine restrictions.
In order to help travellers planning their trips, VisaGuide.World, has created a tool designated to inform those wanting to travel if their dose of vaccine is valid in their country of destination.