Europe’s holiday destinations battered by Covid look at opening up to UK

Southern European nations have seen their tourism industries destroyed by Covid-19

The Plaka district of Athens. AP
The Plaka district of Athens. AP

Key tourist nations in Europe are looking at opening up to UK flights as the country starts to emerge from its most recent lockdown

Greece’s tourism minister has said it will prioritise vaccines for people living on 40 of its smaller holiday destination islands.

The Spanish government said it wants to open up the Canary and Balearic Islands from May for travellers with a negative test.

And Rita Marques, Portugal’s tourism minister, said she hoped the UK can be soon allowed restriction-free travel.

As the southern European nations, which are heavily dependent on tourism, look at opening up their economies, so far each country ties flights to Covid tests and proofs of vaccinations.

Under the UK’s road map out of lockdown, Monday is the first date for lifting lockdown restrictions, when schools will reopen and some outdoor exercise will be allowed.

All other dates on the road map are conditional on meeting coronavirus conditions, and May 17 is the earliest date people from England can travel abroad for a holiday.

Greece plans to give vaccinations to the inhabitants of its smaller islands, including Halki and Meganisi.

"We're vaccinating everyone on islands that have a population of less than 1,000 inhabitants," said tourism minister Harry Theoharis.

“We want to vaccinate people working in the tourism sector, from hotel staff and waiters to tourist guides and drivers," he added.

Greece has a population of 11 million people and more than one million of them have received the first vaccine jab.

Direct commercial or private flights between Portugal and Britain have been banned since January to limit the spread of Covid-19 variants.

Those measures are due to be reviewed on March 16.

Portugal's tourism minister Rita Marques said she hoped to allow British tourists who could prove they had tested negative or were immune to Covid19 into the country from May 17.

Cyprus will open its doors from May 1 to British tourists who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, a government minister said.

The pandemic has devastated the Mediterranean island's tourism industry, with arrivals slumping to 631,609 in 2020 from nearly four million in 2019.

"We informed the British government that as of May 1, we would facilitate the arrival of British citizens immunised with EU-licensed vaccines to enter Cyprus with no negative Covid-19 test and no quarantine," Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said.

Mr Perdios said the policy was subject to the British government's Covid-19 restrictions, which currently ban international travel.

Published: March 6, 2021 11:35 PM

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