The story repeats itself. While the incidence levels of the coronavirus pandemic are still far from reassuring for health, the drums to “save the summer” are sounding again in Europe.
In a situation very reminiscent of the haste of the de-escalation last year, with more than half a month left before the end of the state of alert, the Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, has already encouraged Spaniards last Friday to book their summer holidays ensuring that there will be mobility between regions.
end of quarantine
But his Greek counterpart, Harry Theoharis, was much more ambitious. A week ago, Greece announced that it would stop requiring forty for tourists from Europe and other countries such as the United States, Great Britain, United Arab Emirates, Serbia , Israel and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
From May 15, its borders will be officially open to all tourists from destinations who can prove they have been vaccinated or have a negative PCR test 72 hours before arriving in the country. But according to Reuters, the country’s leaders intend to gradually relax the measures from May 2, the big day in the country for the celebration of its Easter holiday. The borders of Greece have, exceptionally, been open to Israeli tourists for a month when the country had already vaccinated almost all of its population.
Greek Tourism Minister on US tour
As if that were not enough, Harry Theoharis has embarked on a tour of the United States and Mexico, two countries of great interest for tourism in his country, in which he sells Greece as a safe destination and open borders to North American tourists.
The strategy has set off alarm bells in Spain’s tourism sector and just yesterday Juan Molas, president of La Mesa de Turismo, a trade organization that represents businessmen across the tourism chain, called on the government to join the Greek strategy. “The Greek exception, to which Spain must adhere immediately, shows that we cannot continue to accept without question being held hostage by the Brussels policy, decided by a group of countries for which tourism has no not a representative weight in their economies,” said Molas. .
We cannot continue to accept without question being the hostages of Brussels
From the Tourist Board, they recognize that the Greek initiative violates European border health regulations, but they justify the decision taking into account the importance of the sector for the Greek economy. Tourism contributes 20% of GDP and 25% of employment.
In the Spanish tourism sector, which contributes 12% of GDP, there are fears that Greece, the main competitor for sun and beach tourism, will win the battle for the Covid Free tourist destination in historical fishing areas so important for Spain than Germany or the United States. United Kingdom and in high-potential emerging markets such as the United States.
But that of Greece is far from being a revolution against the power of Brussels. Quite the contrary. Theoharis strategy was confirmed yesterday by the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen. In an interview with the New York Times newspaper, he raised Greece’s offer to the European Union as a whole, assuring that Americans are vaccinated with serums approved by Europe and will therefore be able to travel freely throughout the country. Union if they prove this vaccination.
Exceltur asks to strengthen the foreign campaign
Last Tuesday, another tourism employer Exceltur already asked the government to strengthen Spain’s international campaign as a safe destination, precisely to counter competition from other more aggressive Mediterranean destinations.
An international positioning which becomes even more necessary after these recent events. Although from Exceltur, they urged caution and recalled that last year’s de-escalation rush ended up destroying the summer season when, in late July, infections rebounded in Europe and the UK began to impose quarantines.
This year the situation is different because most Western countries are in the middle of a vaccination campaign, but we must not forget that the rush of 2020 was very expensive. A mistake that after a year with the sector in subsistence mode should not be repeated.