Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis has called on European leaders to embrace the idea of vaccination certificates more quickly, which will allow mass travel to resume, the Financial Times reported today. Athens is working to restore the tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Looking at the reaction of some parties to the proposals for a vaccination certificate, I have the feeling that he has great short-sightedness. We need to do more to prepare, “Theocharis told the newspaper.
The introduction of vaccination passports may allow leisure and business trips between countries after immunization will be discussed at an EU summit starting on Thursday, BNR reported.
Some Greek-led member states are considering the idea, but the bloc is divided and diplomats see the early adoption of the proposed system as unlikely due to fears that a “two-speed citizens” system will be set up in the area of travelers’ rights.
Tourism is vital for Greece and accounts for about a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product and employment, according to data from the Greek Tourism Confederation. Despite a partial opening last summer, international travel restrictions took 4% of Greece’s GDP, according to UN estimates.
Germans are the largest group of international tourists in Greece – about 4.4 million visits in 2018, according to the OECD. In second place are the British, who are no longer part of the EU.
Athens is partly aggressive in its efforts to impose vaccination passports as a way to allow tourists to return. It has found support from some member states with large tourism sectors or those that are worried about visitors from neighboring countries at higher levels of infection. But countries like Germany and France are not yet convinced of this strategy.
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