Yesterday, I wrote about the plan that Greece has for the reopening of the country and there schedule for getting the tourist season underway. Just a little while ago, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis laid out the economical plans for Greece going forward as well as addressing the tourist season.
Greece Says the Tourist Season Starts June 15
Updated May 21 with new information
Until today, the tourist season start date had been July 1. But, like everything else with the phased reopening of Greece, this has been moved back due to how well things are going. Now, we have a new date.
Click through to Twitter to translate it into English
Η τουριστική περίοδος ξεκινά 15 Ιουνίου, όταν θα μπορούν να ανοίξουν τα εποχικά ξενοδοχεία. Από 1η Ιουλίου, σταδιακά, θα ξεκινήσουν οι απευθείας πτήσεις εξωτερικού. Στους επισκέπτες μας θα γίνονται δειγματοληπτικά τεστ. Και θα τηρούνται τα γενικά υγειονομικά μας πρωτόκολλα.
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) May 20, 2020
June 15 – Hotels All Open and Tourist Season Starts
With the declaration that the Greek tourist season starts June 15 also comes the opening of both year-round hotels and the seasonal hotels that are so popular in all the islands. Before today, that opening date for seasonal hotels had been July 1.
What the date June 15 is also important for is that it is the date that Europe’s external borders will open again. Greece is putting it out there that they do not want any more extensions of the EU border closures to affect their country as they have done exceptionally well with handling the coronavirus to date.
July 1 – The Start of Direct Flights
July 1 is still an important date for any who wish to fly to Greece directly from outside the EU, like from the US. That is the date that flights will start up again. Greece has mentioned before that they want visitors from the US and this is another move in that direction.
Health Tests – Yes | Quarantine – No
At the airport, officials will be doing spot tests on incoming passengers. It was quite a general part of the announcement so more will be coming out as he also said that general health protocols will be followed.
But, one more thing that came out is that (as talked about before) there will be no 14 day quarantine from Greece for incoming visitors. While there are definitely worst places to have to spend 14 days, no one wants to spend their vacation being quarantined either.
Lower VAT Pricing
This is not likely something you may realize when you are here and paying for things but the VAT (value added tax) of 24% for things like cafes, some drinks, and public transportation fares (among some other things) will go down to 13%.
This is in addition to a boost that Greece is making in their tourism sector through a multi-billion euro economic plan. This is good news indeed for Greeks but, again, not something you may notice unless you are spending a lot of money (since the price you are given already has the VAT in it).
What Does All This Mean for US Visitors?
At this time, the opening date of June 15 is for people from countries where the containment has gone well and numbers are dropping. This means several countries in Europe but it does not seem that the US is included in this.
In fact, shortly after the initial announcement by the Greek Prime Minister, US flights from the US to Athens were moved out to be after the July 15th date. It appears at this point that US visitors will need to wait until July 15th to be welcome for the tourist season.
At this point, it seems that the June 15th starting date is about opening the country for tourists to countries that Greece feel present minimal risk of virus carrying. After July 15th, it should open to more countries like the US.
So, from July 1, international flights will be starting up again and only spot tests will take place after that date. There will not be any quarantine plans or testing required after that date. This is as May 21 and things are kind of fluid so it could change.