'Welcome back'

Greece welcomes back international visitors to its regional airports from Wednesday 1 July 2020.  A total of 235 flights from abroad are scheduled to land at the various regional airports as borders re-open to foreign visitors from specific countries.  It will be the lowest volume of flights in decades, but it's a start.  With the exception of the United Kingdom and Sweden, two counties from which flights will not be allowed until 15 July, there are no restrictions on arrivals from other European countries.  Greece and German travel giant TUI signed a joint agreement in Kos for promotion of Greek tourism, setting as a shared target for the arrival this Summer of 50% of the 3 million visitors the German tour operator brought last year.  Greece is the first country that TUI has cooperated with on such a basis.

Greece has put in place a new travel protocol which it claims will allow 'smart' Covid-19 testing.  The targeted testing will be based on special software that calculates which tourists are more likely to be carriers of the virus.  For the time being, British, Americans, Swedes and Russians, among others where the Covid-19 cases continue to be high, are barred from flying to Greece. The American tourist market, which includes thousands of Greek Americans who come every Summer, not only heading for the Greek Islands but for lesser-known ancestral destinations, giving these areas a much needed economic boost.  Around a million people travel from the United States to Greece every year.  America comes third after Germany and United Kingdom in the list of the 3 most important markets for Greek tourism.

Flight booking data has shown that Athens currently ranks in the top 4 most-booked European cities during the first half of June 2020 compared to last years rankings.  Due to the current border restrictions and Covid-19 quarantine regulations, countries such as Greece and Portugal have soared in the rankings due to both governments implementing effective health and safety measures.

Taxis and cars will now be able to carry three passengers instead of the current two (excluding the driver) and the use of face mask is mandatory in taxis for both driver and passengers.  The new rule will apply until 12 July when all measures will be reassessed.

Tomorrow, Greece is expecting seven ferries from Italy with over 1,000 passengers to arrive at the port of Patras.  This is after the 3.5 month suspension of sailings. Two ferries docked at Patras today, transporting a large number of trucks and drivers from Italy.