Hoping for a Good Season: Med States Are Redying to Welcome Back Tourists

Written by | Thursday, May 20th, 2021

Demand for summer flights to US cities New York, Miami and Los Angeles was up 300% after Germany loosened coronavirus travel restrictions, Lufthansa said Tuesday (18 May). The German flag-carrier has recently resumed flights to Orlando and Atlanta and have seen the same three-fold rebound in flights to Greece and to the Spanish islands of Ibiza and Majorca, with its budget unit, Eurowings, to lay on 500 extra European flights. In Italy, the tourism industry, which, before the pandemic, accounted for 14% of GDP, hopes to bounce back as COVID-19 travel restrictions have now been relaxed. Italy has removed quarantine measures for tourists arriving from EU and Schengen area countries, as well as the UK and Israel. The quarantine has also been dropped for visitors travelling from the US, Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates onboard COVID-tested flights. All tourists will need to provide either evidence of having been fully vaccinated with an EU-approved COVID-19 vaccine, or at least of having recovered from the virus or tested negative 48 hours prior to travelling.
As they are readying for the summer season, small Italian islands that usually attract hords of domestic and overseas visitors plan to vaccinate its entire populations as well as seasonal workers. Italy introduced its travel “green pass” before the launch in June of the EU’s equivalent to try to salvage the badly battered tourism industry. “Few countries are intertwined with tourism as Italy,” Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi said earlier this month. Alongside the plan, the country’s vaccination programme has accelerated in recent weeks, with over 28 million people having received one dose as of now, while almost 9 million are fully vaccinated. Italy registered 4,452 new infections on Tuesday and 201 more deaths as Draghi’s government further eased restrictions, including shortening the nightly curfew and potentially scrapping it completely on 21 June. All of Italy’s 20 regions, apart from the Aosta Valley, are now in the low-risk “yellow zone”.
As visitors start returning to Greece, some business owners who suffered economically during the pandemic are eyeing the luxury market. COVID-19 travel restrictions meant that, for example, the Greek island of Corfu received just 28,000 visitors from cruise ships, down from 850,000 in 2019. The 1.5 million visitors who arrived by air in 2019 dropped by about 75%. In 2019, a record 31 million visitors came to Greece, making it the 7th most popular holiday destination worldwide. But a year later, the pandemic hit the tourism sector in Greec hard as tourist arrivals fell by three quarters, and so did revenue, to 4.3 billion euros. Since tourism contributes a fifth of the economy, the government is determined to improve on that performance this year. Hence, in mid May, Greece became the first EU country to welcome leisure travellers from the rest of the EU and a list of other countries, without quarantine, just with a proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before departure. The relaxation of measures for visitors has brought a sense of relief especially among Greek people employed in this economically vital sector.

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