The Greek government has announced the phased restart of the country’s all important tourism sector by opening up the country to visitors from June, and supporting local businesses ahead of the traditional summer tourist season.
Accounting for roughly a quarter of the economy and as many jobs, Greece’s tourism sector welcomed more than 30 million international visitors last year and collected more than €16 billion in direct tourism receipts. But this year the industry will be deeply affected by the world- wide travel and health restrictions imposed in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
In late May, government officials rolled out a targeted economic package that provides employ- ment support and tax relief, as well as special financing, for Greek tourism-related enterprises. Those measures will extend over the next 3-4 months and supplement broader relief measures already in place for most Greek businesses and workers.
And starting in June, the government will allow hotels to re-open and international air travel to resume in stages. Ini- tially, Greece expects to cater to domestic tourists and visitors from nearby countries, such as Bulgaria and Cyprus that, like Greece, were quick to respond to the public health crisis. Visi- tors from another 18 countries, including Germany and China where outbreaks are receding, will also be among the first al- lowed to enter Greece as of June 15.
The government will also impose new random health checks on visitors and health protocols at tourism enterprises. There are also plans to increase health capacity in popular tourist destinations, particularly some of Greece’s smaller islands
Restarting Greek tourism
- May 25 – Yachting restrictions lifted
- June 1 – Year round hotels, campsites re-open
- June 15 – Seasonal hotels re-open, first international flights to Athens airport
- July 1 – International flights resume to all Greek airports
- From July 15 – Remaining restrictions gradually lifted
Supporting Greek tourism enterprises
- Reduced VAT rates on travel, transport and catering services
- Suspension of tax obligations extended
- Relief from tax pre-payments, refund of advance payments
- Unemployment benefits extended, to include seasonal tourism workers
- Government wage, tax and pension subsidies for seasonal tourism workers
- Up to 40% reduction in rents extended to August
- Preferential financing through Entre- preneurship Fund II
Initial 20 countries
Cyprus, Israel, Germany, China, Australia, Japan, Denmark, Austria, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Albania, North Macedonia Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway
source: Enterprise Greece