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Greek tourism faced with new threat

Expectations of a smooth July in the Greek tourism sector are giving way to fear due to growing concern about the Delta variant of the coronavirus, the extension of restrictive measures on British travel to Greece and the reluctance of Berlin and Paris to accept the adoption of the digital certificate as of July 1, as Athens has sought.

Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have expressed concern that Greece and other European Union countries are allowing the entry of travelers who have been inoculated with Russian and Chinese vaccines that have not been approved by the EU.

In general, Europe’s political tug-of-war with Britain, and even more so with Russia, has indicated that this summer won’t be much better than last year in terms of foreign tourist arrivals, as many had expected just a few days ago.

This is especially disconcerting for entrepreneurs in the industry in those Greek destinations that depend on the UK and Russian markets.

The concerns were accentuated by the developments in the previous 48 hours. First, London presented a revised list of destinations that British tourists can visit without having to be quarantined on their return, which, however, does not include Greece or its individual island destinations, as many had hoped.

However, UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps said that later in the summer, fully vaccinated British residents will not have to isolate when returning from amber countries.

Moreover, instead of a decision on the implementation of the digital vaccination certificate from 1 July, the European Council stated in its conclusion this week that the agreements reached on the EU Covid digital certificate and the revision of the two Council recommendations on travel within the EU and unnecessary travel to the EU will facilitate safe cross-border travel.

But it clarified that member-states will implement them in such a way as to ensure a full return to free movement as soon as the state of public health allows it.

A day earlier, Merkel said at the Brussels summit that member-states such as Greece welcome travelers vaccinated with Sputnik V against Covid-19, even though the vaccine has not received European approval and it is not clear how effective it is against new dangerous strains of the virus.

“These travelers can then move freely within the EU,” she said. According to Bloomberg, Merkel’s positions were also reportedly shared by Macron.