Greek tourism minister hopeful of joining Britain's 'green list'

Theoharis is currently on a visit to Britain, one of the three largest markets for its vital tourism sector

  

ATHENS- Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said on Wednesday he was hopeful Britain would include Greece on its "green list" of quarantine-free holiday destinations when the list is reviewed at the end of the month.

Greece was kept off an initial list of just 12 countries and territories that Britain said travellers could visit from May 17 without having to quarantine on their return home. 

"I am moderately optimistic that in the next review, if not our whole country, at least our islands should be on the green list," Theocharis said on Greek state TV.

Theoharis is currently on a visit to Britain, one of the three largest markets for its vital tourism sector, meeting government officials, tour operators and airlines ahead of the official start of the tourism season on May 15.

The Greek government allowed organised beaches, museums, bars and restaurants to reopen from last week and wants to vaccinate the entire population of its islands by the end of June.

Greece came out of the first wave of the pandemic last year in better shape than many European countries but it has suffered heavily in recent months as a surge in cases forced it back into lockdown and put health services under severe strain.

However the government says the rollout of vaccines and rapid testing as well as warmer weather allowing more outdoor activities mean that visitors can now travel safely.

Tourism accounts for about a fifth of the Greek economy and employs one in five workers. A collapse in arrivals last year because of the pandemic slashed revenues to 4 billion euros from 18 billion in 2019.

Holiday company TUI Group said earlier on Wednesday that it expects countries such as Spain and Greece to be included in Britain's "green list" of low-risk destinations at the end of the month. 

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas Editing by Gareth Jones) ((lefteris.papadimas@thomsonreuters.com; +30 210 3376477; Reuters Messaging: lefteris.papadimas.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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