On any given – normal – year, Greek islands are magnets for tourists from the European north, with Brits and Germans famously topping the list.
But Europe’s second pandemic summer doesn’t look like a return to business as usual just yet.
So if you’re stuck in Australia, craving for that Greek beach vibe, it might be a consolation to know you’re not alone.
Contrary to popular belief, even for those based in Europe, the much-desired holiday is not taken for granted.
Well, not for every nationality at least.
The European paradox was made evident this week, following the resuming of permitted overseas holidays for UK citizens.
The ‘traffic light’ system deployed for the purpose, designates countries to a green, orange or red travel list, with travel advice, quarantine and other requirements varying accordingly.
As it stands, Greece – including islands, as the UK government website literally clarifies (to avoid any confusion for its citizens ?) – is on the orange list.
A ‘should not travel’ directive applies. And although it doesn’t appear to have the effect of a travel ban, it denotes restrictions and deterrents would include a seven-day quarantine upon arrival back in the UK.
The travel lists, that came into effect on 17 May, are to be re-evaluated every three weeks, with the UK government already pushed to add more countries in the Green List.
Its flagship carrier British Airways is among those spearheading calls for international travel to open up.
Elsewhere, the ‘All you want is Greece’ promo, along with the country’s intensive vaccination campaign for Greek islands resident’s appear to be paying fruit already, inspiring confidence to European travelers.
According to Greece’s Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis, France is already considered a case in point.
“I am optimistic that we will have a dynamic flow of tourists from France this year, as our country has managed to sustain its brand name as a safe destination, while offering all those special elements that the French tourist market is looking for,” he said following a meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.
An immediate bilateral collaboration pertaining to the use of the EU’s ‘green’ digital vaccination certificate, is underway between the two countries.
Mr Theoharis also met with French tourism industry representatives in Paris on Saturday and was reportedly told by executives of air carrier Transavia, that Greece is currently the top destination in bookings, surpassing demand for destinations in Spain and Portugal.
In fact, Transavia, which currently connects 4 French cities to 12 Greek destinations increased in response its 2021 capacity to Greece to 1,100,000 passenger seats.
The company also announced three additional direct flights from Paris-Preveza, Nantes-Corfu and Montpelier-Santorini.