Israel and Greece – two countries that share a major interest in tourism as an economical force for their nations. This means it is in the best interest of both countries to make sure that tourism can increase this year to help those businesses that depend on it. To kickstart that, both Israel and Greece will have a vaccine passport program to make travel easier.
Israel and Greece and the Vaccine Passport
Greece has been trying to get the EU to adopt some kind of vaccine certification for easier travel throughout the EU bloc but there have been those that are not happy with that proposal. So, Greece had turned their sights on a nearby country who also shares tourism as a huge portion of their economy – Israel. Israel has the international distinction of vaccinating more of their population than any other country and they are hoping to be able to open up the country to visitors again in the coming months (even as they currently have their international airport closed).
But, both the leaders of Greece and Israel are looking ahead and trying to encourage visitors from both countries to go back and forth between the countries. To aid in this, they have signed an agreement that would let visitors from each country visit the other without any kind of quarantine – if they have been vaccinated.
Greece and Israel share a lot in common. Fantastic history and archeological remains, museums, delicious food, hospitable people, beautiful weather – and now, a vaccine corridor.
What Will This Mean for Travelers from Israel and Greece?
At present, if this does launch in April as some suggest, it would definitely be Israelis that would have greater access to Greece than vice versa. Greece has been hitting snags in their vaccination program due to EU shortages of the vaccines. As of today, Greece has vaccinated only about 5% of their population with the 60-64 age group starting to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday while they are still working through the 80-84 age group with the other vaccines. This puts them at a far cry from Israel’s rate of vaccination.
This could mean that that age groups of travelers that are chomping at the bit to travel and would want to visit Israel may not even have received the vaccine by the time this program begins while Israel will be fully vaccinated. But, Greece would certainly welcome tourists even if their own citizens are not yet able to travel to Israel.
Cheap, Non-Stop Flights will Come Back
Greece and Israel, pre-Covid 19, had several non-stop flights between Athens and Tel Aviv, Thessaloniki and Tel Aviv, and Heraklion and Tel Aviv. This would help in a huge way to cut out transit countries as the two countries begin preparing to receive visitors from each other. In the past, tickets have been under $20 for one way travel which I would imagine we will keep seeing as the flights may be somewhat of a loss leader just to get people to visit.
At the same time of this agreement on Monday, the Greek PM also said that they are entering into an agreement with Israel to help trial test a new Covid-19 drug, bringing the two countries even closer together against the overall battle against Covid-19.
What Does This Mean for Future Travel?
I think this is just the first of many such agreements that will take place between countries for a vaccine passport program. I think we are still a way off from having a global vaccine passport since many countries will stand against having such a program in the first place. But, if countries are able to make agreements between each other and have non-stop flights between those countries (especially for countries that would typically host a lot of vacationers or tourists), this will be a big step for those countries and their travel-based economies.
It also brings up an interesting perspective for travel for people not from these countries. Greece has made no secret that they are hoping to welcome tourists from all over the world for this summer season and that they will do that without requiring the vaccine.
If this final agreement between Greece and Israel covers travelers that have the vaccine from one of those two countries and not just citizens, this could give yet another way for Greece to attract visitors. If they can offer the vaccine for tourists – at a markup – and guarantee that those same travelers would be able to travel to Israel from Greece, it would make Greece a potential gateway to Israel that would be attractive to many that may not otherwise be able to go. Who knows but I would think that Greece would like the potential moneymaking opportunities that this could offer.