Greece is 'open' and its Covid-19 rules 'belong to the past', tourists told

A $4.2 billion initiative with UAE will boost tourism between the two countries ahead of summer season

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Greece is gearing up for a busy summer season and is ready to welcome travellers with no restrictions.

That’s the message from the Mediterranean holiday hotspot, delivered at the Arabian Travel Market this year.

“Greece is an open country; we don’t have any restrictions any more and every restriction of Covid belongs to the past,” said Dimitrios Fragakis, general secretary of the Greek National Tourism Organisation, at the annual travel show in Dubai.

“I think people don’t know this yet, there was some confusion. But I would like to point out that there are no restrictions in Greece other than wearing face masks in internal areas.

“Greece is open, people can travel freely,” he told The National.

As well as dropping travel requirements, the country on May 1 lifted domestic Covid-19 measures. This means that travellers can access cafes, bars, restaurants and other public places without having to show any negative PCR test results or vaccination proof.

A boost for UAE-Greece tourism

Travel between Greece and the UAE is set to benefit from the $4 billion investment initiative announced between the countries on Monday this week.

“Greece and the Arab world have had a very good relationship for decades now, for centuries. The visit of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece, to Abu Dhabi and the agreement signed with the UAE is another sign for good relationships between the countries,” said Fragakis.

“Every deal improves the relations between the countries and how Greece can promote its products, and the most important product for us is tourism. It accounts for 25 per cent of our GDP and almost 700,000 people are working in tourism from a country of 10 million.”

The sun-soaked destination is already a popular choice for UAE travellers, accounting for 2.1 per cent of all outbound travel traffic.

The Greek island that should be on your travel radar

UAE holidaymakers flock to the European destination to visit Athens and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. But there’s a lot more for tourists to discover.

Fragakis said: “There are also a lot of islands like Rhodes, Kos and other smaller islands to visit. We also have the Ionian Islands in the Ionian Sea, where there’s some marvellous architecture.

“And when it comes to emerging destinations, Peloponnese is one of the most beautiful regions of Greece. It’s near Athens, and there’s also an airport there called Kalamata, so it's easy to get to.”

Greece has also positioned itself as a year-round destination, and not only a place in the sun.

Not just for summer: 17 ski centres and island snow sports

“It’s not well known as everyone thinks that Greece is purely a summer destination, but that’s not true," said Fragakis. "We have many destinations all over Greece that are very exciting during winter.

"We have snow, we have 17 ski centres — you can even go skiing in Crete, the only island in Greece with a ski slope.”

Other winter attractions awaiting visitors include mountain villages, winding lakes and rivers, and a rich gastronomy.

“It’s not difficult at all to reach the islands," said Fragakis. "You can fly direct to Athens, Mykonos or Santorini on a direct flight and then take a short domestic flight or a boat and go directly to any of the other islands. It’s really close and the network of internal flights and shipping is really great."

The destination is also celebrating the launch of new direct flights from Doha to Santorini with Qatar Airways, which was announced at the Arabian Travel Market on Tuesday. These will begin on June 7.

They will boost connectivity between Greece and the Mena region further, joining existing routes from Emirates, Etihad, flydubai, Wizz Air, Gulf Air and Aegean Airlines.

In pictures: Arabian Travel Market 2022

Updated: May 19, 2022, 11:57 AM