Press Conference – ITB
Ladies and gentlemen,
It saddens me greatly that once again, this year, we can not meet in person. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that our next meeting will be in beautiful Berlin. The pandemic may keep us apart, but Tourism unites us all, just as Culture does. Today, it gives me great pleasure to speak to you from the Acropolis Museum, one of the greatest museums in the world with unique exhibits that if all goes according to plan you can all see up close, this coming summer.
An unprecedented adventure, deprived us all of many vital goods in our lives. While experiencing great agony for our health, so much our own as that of our loved ones, we were forced to postpone every dream and every desire related to travel, outside of our country.
I believe you will all agree with me, that none of us ever imagined that time, without the vision of free travel, vacation and recreation in a sunny destination, could seem so endless and torturous.
Since 2020, Greece has already proved in practice that it can guarantee to every one of its visitors a unique holiday travel enjoyment, with safety. We have received a commendation from the international community for this endeavor. We managed to open Greek Tourism safely, even before having all means to do so – the game changers we have in our hands today did not even exist back then, namely the vaccines and the rapid tests.
– We created protocols for each activity.
– We trained hundreds of thousands of employees in the new protocols.
– We collaborated with the private sector, where the protocols were implemented in an exemplary way, with no compromise.
– We strengthened every island, every destination.
– We created the “EVA” system, the most innovative system for distributing control tests, which improved the control efficiency by up to 4 times.
– We welcomed and offered hospitality to more than 1,5 million German, more than 6 million tourists in total last year, who enjoyed the holiday experience in our country while staying safe.
Saying that, we are here to talk about the future.
Greece is ready with a complete protocol for Summer 2021. In broad terms:
- Tourists will be welcome if before travel they are
- All Tourists will subject random testing similar to last year. An important difference is the use of rapid tests. This means that isolation will take place immediately without the hassle of moving 24 hours after you have settled in your room.
- All health needs, hospitalization e.t.c. – related to Covid – will be provided by the Greek State at no cost to tourists.
- All rules that are valid for our citizens will be valid for tourists – no differentiation, no exemption. Mask meaning for example is currently mandatory in public places. This applies to everyone.
We will strengthen our health system structures in all destinations like we did last year, providing reassurance of proper care to citizens and guests alike.
We are prioritizing vaccination of people serving tourists, people working in the tourism industry oven the general population as soon as the most vulnerable are vaccinated.
In the meantime we are mandating frequent testing of employees in order to provide safety and peace of mind.
Finally, we are updating last year’s health protocols to take into account the accumulated experience since last year.
With these protocols in mind we aspire to open by the 14th of May. Until then, we will gradually lift the restrictions as health considerations allow it.
For example we plan to pilot our rules in the beginning of April with EU and other highly vaccinated countries like Israel. I stress that these are aspirational dates provided for guidance.
We are approaching the exit from this dark tunnel, thanks to the power of the human spirit and the progress of science. Please allow me to emphasize that, no image could better portray the return to the normality of tourism than the Greek smile, the Greek landscape, and the Greek hospitality.
Regarding 2021, in Greece we are more than optimistic.
We are ready.
We are ready to share the experience of liberation from the unpleasant memories of the pandemic with each and every one of our guests.
Greece, as a leading tourist destination in the region of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, has always offered breathtaking natural beauty, combined with unrivaled cultural heritage and the joy of life, as only Greeks know how to experience and share.
Today, one can add to the incomparable advantages of Greece as a tourist destination, its commitment to offer and guarantee the health and safety of each and every tourist.
I can almost hear you hum our new slogan already: “All you want is Greece.” Yes, this year and forever, “all you want is Greece.” To put a smile on your face once again, in hope that you will get your life back, “all you want is Greece.”