Destinations Travel News

Greece: “Tourist Season Starts June 15” with Hotel Openings and Health Testing

Written by Charlie

The Greek Prime Minister has just announced that the tourist season in Greece starts June 15. This is a big move for people who want to visit this beautiful country!

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

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.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

37 Comments

  • Excellent! Looking forward to additional information about the health tests. Also, we should here more from the US government regarding our ability to travel abroad and if we will have a 14 day quarantine when we come back to the US.

    I’m still wondering, despite the information that has already been released, how the ferries/hydrofoils will be able to practice social distancing embarking and disembarking

  • Charlie thanks. But there was a second part to that announcement, which was more grim for Americans. The tourism minister said that countries they deem with negative epidemiological characteristics could be not allowed until July 15th.

    This is a poor judgement call because “poor epidemiological characteristics” is highly subjective to spin depending on per capita death rates, size of population, demographics etc. Like who will decide this and based on which factors? So this could be OK for folks booked after July 15th but for those booked early July they have to wait until end of May to once again rearrange their travel and possibly have issues rebooking stays etc!

    • I think this is more about giving an out if they feel that they need one rather than an actual policy they will enforce. The PM and other officials have said on many occasions that they want people to travel here from the US and if they did place the US on a list like that, you will see the US airlines dropping their flights quickly for travel prior to July 15.
      Fingers crossed!

      • Delta Airlines just adjusted their July transatlantic schedule. Direct flights from JFK to ATH now will not start until July 16 instead of the previous July 2 date.

        • Hmm, then they are anticipating that the US will be in that group. Thanks for the heads up about that. It is disappointing for sure for many. But, there should still be a good chunk of summer left.
          What was your date again? I will keep my ears out for the ferry updates as well.

          • Hopefully I will be good as I’m departing in the second half of August

            Also hoping the US gov does not make us go into a 14 day quarantine upon arrival back into the US. Cannot afford to be off work for 30 days total

          • Oh good! I would be very surprised if the US makes people returning on direct flights from Greece go into quarantine! Greece is the best country in Europe for the virus and they will have some great measures in place to keep people healthy so it would be almost comical for the US to enforce a quarantine on those people – especially since they haven’t been enforcing one up to now!

        • I see Emirates has not changed yet but this could be because it is part of their EWR-ATH-DXB route. So it could count to Greece as a stopover?
          This must be to play it safe since they were set on the beginning of July for a bit now. Obviously, this means that there is some communication going on between the US and Greece so at least that is comforting.

          • I don’t know Charlie, it is not looking good for US citizens. The PM doesn’t seem to be acknowledging the US market at all. I can’t see the logic in letting in highly affected countries like Italy Spain and the UK but shunning the US; but that is the direction it seems to be going; and that direction seems pretty grim at the moment. Not to mention a bit dim.. 1 American tourist is like 10 Balkan when it comes to spending. And more like 3 UK tourists at that. How much are they going to make up by catering to these countries instead of the big spenders?

          • I updated the post with new information I saw as of today – similar to what Sam referenced. We are still just about 2 months off from the July 15th date so a lot could happen before then.
            There for sure is no way they are going to get the tourist spending they need without the UK and the US. Germany contributes quite a bit with that but the big money is from travelers that are coming from far away, like the US. I still think that post-July 15 should be good for the US but we will have to wait and see. Sorry I cannot add anything more than that!

          • Also, American Airlines begins their direct flight from ORD (Chicago O’Hare) to ATH July 7 as of this morning.

  • I am in that unfortunate group that now needs to change flights with Delta again. So Charlie you think it’s a safe bet that US citizens will be OK for July 15th?

    • Here is some more information. The mention of the list of other countries that will be released at a later time with negative criteria probably includes the US.

      “According to the minister, from June 15, Greece will allow the entrance of incoming tourists initially from countries chosen based on “epidemiological criteria”. The ministry will release a list of countries from which visitors will be able to arrive in Greece by the end of May. Theoharis did, however, mention Balkan countries (specifically Bulgaria), Cyprus and Israel as examples.

      July 1 is the date when all of Greece’s airports are scheduled to begin allowing international flights to land. People from all countries will be allowed to travel to Greece, except from countries that have negative epidemiological criteria. A list of those countries will be released in a timely manner.”

    • Delta schedule change Saturday struck today, changing the direct flight from JFK-ATH once again

      Direct service from JFK-ATH begins now on July 23. July will be only a few flights flying on the lousy 767 product. July 23, 25, 30. Daily service begins on Aug 1 as well as A333 service.

      Not sure what Delta knows or if this is just a reduction based on current bookings?

      I’m actually about to say to hell with this whole thing and go somewhere else. Really not looking forward to having a mask on for 10 hours either plus reduced service on Delta.

      • Oh no. Is there a way to find out if this is due to demand or to something else? Because if it is demand I will just look to fly another carrier direct. As of now it looks like Emirates is going direct still in July from Newark.

        • Sam – How is the Boeing 777? You can go with delta/ air france or delgta/ al italia in early july (July 6 or so) with a stop over in Rome or CDG on that aircraft. I may opt that route as Delta will just rebook you there.

          • I’ve flown all of them, AF, Alitalia, KLM. I’ve flown the 777 on AF and Alitalia and love them. Delta is retiring their entire 777 fleet. The 767 Delta equipment is just awful. Reminds me of flying business class for the first time to Rome from JFK in 1999 in the old Business Elite.

            I’m scheduled to leave just after the middle of August on Delta on the A333. Originally, I was scheduled to go ATH-CDG then connect back to the US. However, I became worried as several countries were talking about mandatory quarantines even with a stop over. No way I was going to risk that for 14 days in another country so I just did Delta the entire trip to play it safe.

            Hard to say if it’s demand or something else. American still has their direct service scheduled to begin July 7 out of O’Hare as of this afternoon.

          • One other thing if you connect either in CDG or FCO, check your connection time. You will need to go through customers on arrival at either airport. I always give myself a minimum of 90 min but prefer 2 hours to be safe.

          • Sam – Thanks. I think I may go with the 777-200 er AF from JFK to CDG to ATH. They are only offering a 75 minute layover though. Hard to imagine the connecting flight would go if we weren’t on it from the origin, no? They have to know this is a short window..

          • Meant to say customs, not customers.

            You roll the dice with 75 min. CDG is a very large airport. If your flight it late arriving, you will be out of luck. If you do it, be proactive and see when the next flight to ATH is that day just so you will know.

          • I believe someone else mentioned it but what about Emirates direct from EWR to ATH? Seems they are still flying at that time.
            Have flown them numerous times on that route, it’s a 777 and bearable in economy for the trip.

          • Emirates is fantastic, even in economy. But, their business class on that route is an angled lie-flat. Better than economy but not worth it compared to what you can get with other carriers.

          • Have never flown Emirates but heard their soft product is fine. I stick with Skyteam. It’s where my points are and I’m a 2 million miler with Delta.

          • Nice! I have only flown Delta once from Athens and it was in coach. I always have enjoyed Delta (used to be a Diamond, charter, in fact!) but given that Skymiles had not allowed redemptions on Transavia out of SKG, I started doing all Star Alliance. I have flown AA in the past in biz from Athens and it was nice. But, I have not flown UA from Athens in business because awards are very hard to get on that route normally! My favorite is either Turkish or Qatar. Yes, it is farther but the times work great (1am departure out of ATH or 7PM with a morning arrival in JFK) and QSuites are awesome! 🙂

          • Delta changed their Athens flight from JFK again last night. They will have direct service starting July 16 3x/week through the end of July then start daily service Aug 1, all subject to change of course

          • Sam – I see that. on the 767 Boeing which you say is abysmal, right? I am sticking with sky team, and my go the AF 777 biz class route, witch stop over in CDG, as I was on Delta 1 originally. My return would be on the Delta direct, airbus and in Delta 1. Does 767 have a decent first class?

          • Sam – in other words, would you forgo a direct flight in Delta’s 767 300 Delta 1 and opt for the stop over in CDG with AF’s biz class in their 777 200 er? I generally avoid layovers but if the 767 is going to be horrible maybe its worth it to endure the layover?

          • AF Business Class on the 777 is excellent. I flew it last year to ATH through CDG. The 767 Delta business class is AVOID IF AT ALL POSSIBLE! Again, the only good think here is you would be flying an American based airline that does not have a layover in another country that could possibly have entry requirements down the road that we currently don’t know about.

            If it were me, and if it’s possible, I would delay my trip until August and fly Delta One directly into ATH on the A333.

            Hope you like wine when you fly their business class product. It’s excellent. Although I will take a good agiorgitiko red wine from Nemea any day

          • I can understand why you are sticking with Delta/Skyteam. We use Emirates since it’s more convenient then going to JFK and the times works better as well.

        • It is probably due to demand and caution – there may not be that many people booking tickets for as soon as they can enter.

          • Hi Charlie, agree with you about Emirates business class to/from ATH but over the past couple of years they have offered incredibly cheap upgrades to business class a week or 2 before the flights that have made it worthwhile and keeps the family happy on the overnight flight to ATH.
            I haven’t flown to/from ATH on Delta but I have a couple of friends that have done it in economy, 1 does it every year, and they have no complaints and in fact speak highly of it.
            I haven’t thought of Qatar to/from ATH because there are no direct flights. Can you provide any info/thoughts on it? I have been looking at Qatar for a trip to EVN.

  • We don’t know, it all depends on the virus 🙂

    Did you catch that now hotels and bars can grab ALL the beach land they can get for free…and do this permanently? I can see some epic fights between business owners lol. Someone did not think this through…maybe okay for this summer or until the Covid-19 is around but permanently??

    My hope for the Athens Marathon was renewed…a little 🙂

    • I missed that! That is crazy! Has to be due to the 13 foot rule, probably will expire after this year, right?
      I could see a situation where the Athens Marathon is for runners from certain countries but I doubt they would cancel it. But, who knows at this point!

      • I saw that reference about hotels/bars claiming all the beach real estate they can…but I am not seeing it in official press. This goes to show you not to rely on Twitter much haha.

        They postponed registration for the Athens Marathon for early June. Same for the Detroit Marathon which is about 3 weeks earlier than Athens…

        I guess we will soon find out…I dread having to cancel all my bookings and was so looking forward to finally fly Singapore Airlines JFK-FRA in Business Class…

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