Sat, 19 Jun 2021

Greece opens for tourism, famed sites readies for visitors

Robert Besser
18 May 2021, 17:20 GMT+10

ATHENS, Greece: After being locked down during the Coronavirus pandemic, Greece has again opened its borders to tourism.

Greece has also begun allowing tourists to visit its museums as of this week, including the Acropolis museum.

"I feel really alive and good because it has been such a hard and long year because of COVID," said Victoria Sanchez, a 22-year-old student on holiday from the Czech Republic, as quoted by Reuters.

Foreign tourists will be allowed into Greece if they have been vaccinated or can provide negative COVID-19 test results. Travel between regions and islands will be available to those with negative tests or vaccinations.

"Greece is offering what people need," Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis tweeted. "Calm and care-free moments on the road towards normality."

Tourists in Athens voiced their enthusiasm about the opening up in person and online.

"I'm finally here," said Rebecca, a tourist in Athens from Florida, who declined to give her last name. "I've been waiting two years - two years with the COVID," she told Reuters.

Greece has also been working to vaccinate the majority of the population on its islands, and hopes to complete vaccinations by the end of June.

The government has said that vaccinations and rapid testing will allow visitors to travel safely.
During the pandemic, Greece suffered its worst year for tourism on record in 2020, with 7 million visitors compared with a record 33 million in 2019. Tourist revenues collapsed to $4.9 billion from $21.8 billion.

This year, Greek tourism officials have set a goal of reaching 40 percent of 2019 levels.
On Greece's famed islands, officials and citizens began welcoming back international flights filled with tourists.

Greeks also celebrated the end of lockdowns, as they traveled to destinations throughout the country.

"The first weekend of freedom," Alpha TV proclaimed during a broadcast from the busy port of Piraeus.

A country of 11 million, Greece recorded 373,881 Covid-19 infections and 11,322 deaths.

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