Popular tourist destination Greece is keen to welcome all healthy visitors this year, whether they have been vaccinated or not. Jenny Southan reports

According to an ITV interview with Greece tourism minister Haris Theoharis, all travellers from the UK will be welcome to come to the country on holiday this year, whether they have been vaccinated or not.

He said that those who have had the Covid vaccine will not be required to take a test before flying or self-isolate upon arrival, while those who have not been inoculated will need a negative Covid-19 test result before travelling to Greece.

Theoharis said: “We feel that the vaccination programme is a game changer, together with rapid tests and alongside PCR tests.

“We feel that vaccination means someone with the required certificates, which will be issued by the government, will mean you don’t need to have a negative test before the flight.

“But it doesn’t mean that only vaccinated people can travel. We still have the option of a negative test for those who haven’t had a vaccine.”

The Mayor of Santorini, Antonis Sigalas, is equally keen to emphasise that all healthy tourists will be welcome. He tells Globetrender: “To some extent the messaging in the news currently about vaccine passports and a Greece/UK corridor is misleading.

“We in Greece want to make it clear that everyone can visit Greece provided they show a negative Covid test and this is not just limited to those who have had the vaccine and possess a vaccine passport.

“It is important that this message is conveyed since the UK and European travel is vital to pave the way for tourism recovery. We would not want the impression to be that only those who are vaccinated can visit Greece.

“In light of the recent announcement by the UK government, we are hopeful that May will indeed see British tourists return to Greece. Given that the British account for one of the largest proportion of travellers in Greece and that one in five Greeks is reliant on tourism-related work, this will be a much welcome relief.

“In 2019, more than 3.5 million British holidays travelled to Greece, bringing in more than 2.5 billion to the country’s economy – hence it goes without saying that UK travellers are an instrumental life line to get Santorini back on its feet.

“As with last year, Santorini hotels are taking all the necessary precautions and ensuring that the health security of guests and staff is the number one priority.”

Meanwhile, George Filippidis, managing director of Andronis Exclusive hotels in Santorini, tells Globetrender: “Whilst we are, of course, delighted by the positive sentiment around UK travel to Greece and feel pleased with the announcement from the UK government that travel can resume from May 17, we feel it is important to outline that all travellers are welcome to Santorini, not just those with a vaccine/vaccine passport.

“Throughout the last year, Greece has been a trailblazer when it comes to testing arrivals rather than putting them into a mandatory quarantine.

“Greece’s own vaccination process is moving faster than many expected, and the country has a very good track record of controlling Covid-19 better than other European countries. We hope this will reassure our visitors and we cannot wait to open our doors at the Andronis Exclusive hotels in Santorini for a happy, healthy season.

“We hope the UK will put Santorini and Greece high on their watchlist of countries for a summer holiday this year.”

George Avgoustis, general manager of the Grace Hotel by Auberge in Santorini (opening May 2021), told Globetrender on March 9: “In the past ten days we have seen an increase in requests of 50 per cent. The main origin of business is the UK, while there is also a positive surge of US bookings for the latter part of the year.

“Celebrations such as weddings and birthday buy-outs are in demand – a strong indicator that people’s faith in travelling is somewhat restored. We are also seeing a trend for people willing to book the entire property for friends and family.

“Our exclusive villa clientele includes head of states, CEOs and groups reuniting from around the world seeking extra privacy, security, anonymity and comforts.”

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