Greece planning new tourism rules for summer 2020

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Coronavirus has brought big changes to our lives and tourism is set to change drastically because of the pandemic, with Greece drawing up new rules.

Greece’s tourism minister Harry Theoharis has spoken about "specific new rules" for tourism during the coronavirus crisis.

Tourism accounts for 20% of the economy in Greece, with one in five Greeks employed in the industry.

Mr Theoharis, who is set to hold talks with his EU counterparts tomorrow, told The Guardian: “If we are to think of the possibility of travelling this year it has to be under specific new rules.

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“We have to have new rules for hotels, new rules for beaches, new rules for pools, new rules for breakfast buffets, new rules for tour buses.”

The regulations are expected to be discussed by ministers of tourism from different EU countries on Monday, with the possibility of demanding temperature checks and blood tests from passengers also likely to be raised, the newspaper reported

In the same interview, Mr Theoharis said he was looking to establish a common set of rules for EU countries that would allow people to move between country and at the same time make "economic sense".

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He said: "If, for example, you can only fly with 10 people on a plane to be deemed safe then obviously there will be no flight."

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The Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation estimates that the country's tourism industry will make just 30% of what it made in 2019 due to the pandemic, and there are fears for the knock-on effect on the economy.

But if the warm weather brings a reprieve, Mr Theoharis says Greece could open to holidaymakers in July – later than usual but in time for the peak summer months when most revenue is made.

But UK tourists may be replaced by those from eastern and central Europe used to accessing the country by car if air links continue to be suspended.

He said: "Once measures are relaxed a good month will be required to prepare the ground for the [tourism] engine to get started.

"Tour operators are waiting and hoping we can come up with the right rules so that we can start bringing visitors in. We have to strike the right balance … be cautious, tough it out and make the best of it.”

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Greece is expected to lose billions of euros in tourism as the mainland and islands close their borders to visitors, with 65% of hotels facing bankruptcy.

A study by the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels found that 65 percent of hoteliers say that they are "likely" (46.6 per cent) to go bankrupt, with 18.3 per cent saying it was "most likely".

While there are hopes that the tourism industry could start again by July, many companies and tour operators are already struggling.

Speaking earlier this month, the chamber’s president, Alexandros Vassilikos, explained: "The tourism market will open slowly and painfully and in the meantime there will be a lot to be seen.

"Right now there is no data on which seasonal hotels will open after the pandemic as there is zero demand.

"There are many questions and no conclusions can be drawn about anything."

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