Tourists filled airports, sea ports and highways in Greece on Saturday as the country officially kicked off its tourism season in the hopes of reviving an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m very happy to be here,” said German tourist Claudia Schutz Daniel after arriving at the airport with a group of tourists on the island of Corfu.
The streets of Athens’ Plaka tourist district were once again full of visitors browsing souvenirs and stalls.
“I feel really alive and good, because it has been such a hard and long year because of COVID,” said tourist Victoria Sanchez from the Czech Republic.
Cars leaving the capital piled up at toll stations, while travellers queued to board island ferries as authorities eased several COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in time for the tourism opening, allowing travel between provinces, re-opening museums, beaches, bars and restaurants, and extending night curfews.
Tourists will have to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination to travel. A Passenger Locator Form (PLF) will still be required by passengers of international flights, but tourists will not have to quarantine on arrival.
Greece fared well during the first wave of the pandemic last year but suffered badly in the second stage, shutting down much of the economy towards year’s end as case numbers surged and hospitals came under strain. But the government says that vaccinations, testing and sunny weather will allow tourists to come safely.
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