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Photo source: European Commission / Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis

Photo source: European Commission / Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis

The Greek government is considering to harmonize Greece’s domestic validity period of Covid-19 vaccination and recovery certificates with the validity period set at EU level.

Speaking to SKAI on Friday, Greece Health Minister Thanos Plevris referred to the European Commission’s recommendation for EU national governments to harmonize the domestic validity periods of vaccination/recovery certificates with the validity period set at EU level, which is a 9-month duration (270 days) for the two-dose vaccination certificate and 6-month duration (180 days) for the recovery certificate.

Right now the two-dose vaccination certificate issued in Greece has a 7-month duration (210 days) and there is no time limit for those who have received a booster shot. The recovery certificate in Greece is valid for only 3 months (90 days).

Photo source: European Commission / Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis

Photo source: European Commission / Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis

It should be mentioned that the Greek government permits entrance to the country to travelers with either:

– a vaccination certificate valid for 9 months (270 days) since full vaccination (two shots) for Covid-19 (and without validity limit for travelers who have received the booster dose)
– or proof of recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection valid for 6 months (180 days) after its issue date.

However, once in the country visitors must abide by the domestic validity period. This means that access to indoor areas of restaurants, cafes, bars and other leisure facilities in Greece is allowed only after showing either:

– a vaccination certificate valid for 7 months (210 days) since full vaccination (two shots) for Covid-19 (and without validity limit for travelers who have received the booster dose)
– or proof of recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection valid for 3 months (90 days) after its issue date.

Minister Plevris also announced that the Greek government may scrap the measure of showing a certificate to access indoor areas (restaurants, cafes, bars) during the summer months.

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The Greek National Tourism Organization’s (GNTO) branch in Scandinavia has been named Norway’s Best Foreign Tourism Office for 2021 at the annual Grand Travel Awards (GTA).

The awards are organized for the last 25 years by the Norwegian and Swedish editions of Travel News, a leading travel magazine in Scandinavia.

Travel News recently presented GNTO and all the winners in its online edition.

“Greece is one of the best tourism destinations for the Scandinavians,” the director of the GNTO service in Scandinavia Pavlos Mourmas said.

He also referred to Greece’s successful handling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“We tried to meet the needs of people and inspire them by publishing new travel stories through our advertising campaigns ‘Greece from Home’ in 2020; ‘All you want is Greece’ and ‘Greece does have a winter’ in 2021,” he added.

After two years of absence due to the pandemic, the GTA awards ceremony will take place in Sweden on April 26.

The awards will be handed over to the winners by Travel News CEO David Kurtz.

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Photo source: KLM

KLM will fly from The Netherlands to a total of 167 destinations – 96 European and 71 intercontinental – this summer, offering more choice for business and leisure travellers alike.

The carrier has announced its summer schedule, effective from 27 March – 29 October.

Europe

KLM has expanded capacity on European routes by 10 percent compared to last year, almost matching the 2019 pre-pandemic level. This amounts to about 16 million seats in total.

The Portuguese cities of Porto and Lisbon, with three and four flights a day respectively, are just some of the destinations seeing an increase in KLM flights.

The success of the new destinations of Belgrade, Dubrovnik and Palma de Mallorca, which were added to the KLM route network last year, means they will once again be included in the summer schedule.

KLM also expects business travellers to return, which is why frequencies are added to British, German and Polish routes.

Services to Kyiv, St Petersburg and Moscow continue to be suspended. KLM is keeping a close eye on developments in the region.

Intercontinental

Photo source: KLM

KLM has also increased capacity on its intercontinental route network by 17 percent compared to last year, in response to a rising trend in bookings. This summer, it will operate daily flights to Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.

Port of Spain, KLM’s new tropical destination in the winter schedule, is included in the summer schedule too, offering customers thrice weekly flights between Amsterdam and the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.

Since the USA eased travel restrictions in November 2021, demand for flights has grown steadily. KLM capacity to the USA this summer matches that of 2019.

The resumption of flights to Salt Lake City and the new addition of Austin to its route network, means it will be operating direct services this summer to 12 destinations in the USA, the highest number ever.

Photo source: KLM

KLM is seeing more and more countries in Asia opening up to visitors again. Although Covid-19 travel restrictions vary from country to country, summer demand is increasing for such destinations as the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Bali.

India too has indicated that it will be easing travel restrictions. KLM will respond by increasing frequencies to Delhi and Mumbai.

Travel restrictions continue to apply in China, which means KLM cannot yet resume its usual network services to China.

Due to EU sanctions against Russia, KLM is not operating in Russian airspace. Flight times to and from South Korea, Japan and China are consequently on average two hours longer than usual. Flights to Japan and China are currently making a stopover in Seoul.

  • South America

Capacity on most routes to South America has been restored to more or less pre-pandemic levels. KLM is operating daily services to Sao Paulo, Panama City and Lima, with a minimum of six flights a week to Quito/Guayaquil, Bogota/Cartagena, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires/Santiago de Chile.

Passengers wanting to fly to Africa this summer can now choose between 10 destinations. Capacity has been expanded on many routes, compared to last summer, to meet the growing demand. Zanzibar, which was added to KLM’s route network last year, is once again included in the summer schedule.

KLM is also operating services to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Accra, Lagos, Kigali, Entebbe, Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, and Dar es Salaam.

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Greece’s health and tourism ministries presented on Thursday a set of new Covid-19 health protocols to be implemented by hotels and other tourism-related companies. 

The regulations, which have been made public through a joint ministerial decision published recently in the Government Gazette, take effect immediately and expire on May 31, 2023.

Among others, tourism companies must draw up an action plan, a Covid-19 incident management plan – which includes notifying the health ministry and National Public Health Organization (EODY) in case of a positive case, and maintain an updated log book of staff and hotel guests. 

What rules hotels must follow in 2022

Woman Washing Hands With Alcohol Gel At Reception Counter

Photo: Shutterstock

– units with a capacity of more than 50 rooms must also develop individual protocols for all its sections

– accommodation facilities operating in 2022 must update their action plan and coordinator Covid-19 management training by June 1 and staff training by June 15

– staff should be trained on health protocols, including modes of virus transmission, information and communication procedures, emergency procedures in case of Covid incident, cleaning and disinfecting practices

– hotel and hospitality facilities must have a clear operational framework as well as a Covid-19 case management plan, which must be displayed publicly

– reception area employees must not belong to vulnerable groups

– hotels must be able to present Covid-19 policy and measures to customers if requested 

– relevant information on Covid-19 precautionary measures must be displayed with special banners in English, French and German or made available through apps

– hotels must have full medical kits on hand to deal with a potential Covid case and staff must be able to identify signs of illness 

– additional sanitizers, regular sanitization of public areas, distancing during check-in and check-out must be ensured 

 – hotels must extend check-out and check-in duration between stays (check-out until 11.00am and new check in from 3.00pm)

– admission to rooms by non hotel guests is not allowed

– at hotel restaurants, bars and eating areas, protocols foresee longer opening hours to avoid crowding and served meals are encouraged (staff must wear face masks at all times and guests must present a valid Covid-19 vaccination certificate or a negative rapid test result upon entry)

– for buffet service, hand sanitizers must be available at the entrance, distancing is required, installation of protective screens between customers and food, providing single-use products, room service at no additional charge should be encouraged

– pools, spas and other recreational water facilities must be sanitized and cleaned regularly and no more than one person allowed per 2.5m2 of space

– pool seating and umbrellas must be placed at a distance of at least 1.5 meters and be disinfected after each use

– the health rules to be followed in halls used for conferences and events are the same applied in conference and exhibition centers (mask wearing, distancing). 

Guests must have Covid vaccination certificate or negative test

All accommodation facilities should publicly display their “Health First” certification seal and all guests must provide a valid Covid-19 vaccination certificate or a negative rapid test result upon check in.

Lastly, it should be noted that the health protocols also give Greek hotels and other tourist accommodation establishments the option to offer rapid of PCR testing (carried out by a skilled health professional) to guests on the date of check out.

Details on the updated health protocols that are to be applied in Greek hotels can be found here (in Greek).

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Perivoli Country Hotel & Retreat

The Perivoli Country Hotel & Retreat, a four-star eco tourism hotel located near the town of Nafplion in the Peloponnese, is getting ready to welcome its guests for the summer season as of March 25.

Perivoli is located in the village of Pyrgiotika, only 8km from the coastal city of Nafplion. The hotel’s location offers easy access to Argolida’s most popular beaches and sites of attraction such as Mycenae and the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus.

Its rooms are equipped with individually controlled heating and cooling systems, ensuite bathrooms with shower, LED TVs with satellite channels, free WiFi as well as writing desks, telephones, safe-deposit boxes, minibars, hair-dryers, iron and ironing boards.

All rooms feature orthopedic and eco-friendly mattresses, eco-friendly cosmetics as well as plush bathrobes, slippers and pool towels. A baby cot is available upon request.

Farm-to-table restaurant

The hotel also features the Perivoli Farm-to-Table Restaurant which offers delicious farm-to-table menus created with seasonal and organic ingredients from Perivoli’s own fruit gardens, the Greek countryside and organic local producers.

Guests can start their day with a healthy breakfast made of local, organic products. All dishes are “Greek Breakfast” certified.

For lunch, Perivoli’s à la carte menu will delight guests with its exceptional tastes and flavors, while for dinner, the restaurant offers a delicious three-course menu with two choices for each course.

All dishes are prepared with local and organic products based on the seasonal bounty of Argolida.

“Perivoli Country Hotel & Retreat and its high-end Perivoli Farm-to-Table Restaurant are ready to offer the highest quality standards and fulfill the expectations of travelers from Greece and around the world,” the hotel’s management said.

Perivoli Country Hotel & Retreat is ready to welcome its guests and offer unique hospitality services according to the latest health and safety standards for Covid-19.

More information is available at www.hotelperivoli.com.

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Investment activity in Athens’ hospitality industry is picking up pace with some 5,000 hotel rooms currently under construction in the Greek capital.

According to research conducted by GBR Consulting, approximately 2,500 hotel rooms are currently under construction in Athens with an additional 2,500 rooms expected to be created as part The Ellinikon mega-project on the Athenian Riviera.

Investment activity in Athens’ hospitality industry continued throughout 2021, despite the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and global travel restrictions.

According to GBR Consulting, the number of five-star hotels in the central area of Athens increased by 17 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. The amount of four-star hotels rose by 7 percent, while two-star hotels increased by 3 percent.

Hotel rooms also rose by 4 percent in five-star units.  Four- and two-star hotels also saw more hotel rooms by 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

On an annual basis, the number of hotels in the Attica region increased by 2.6 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, and the number of rooms by 2.8 percent.

The data is included in the “17th Survey on Guest Satisfaction and Hotel Performance in Attica” that was recently released by the Athens – Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association in cooperation with GBR Consulting and Athens International Airport (AIA).

*Weighted on rooms available in Attica hotels of 5* – 3*, excluding the islands & Piraeus **2020 non-weighted Source: GBR Consulting

Occupancy rates increase but still below 2019 levels

The survey’s findings for 2021 also revealed that occupancy rates in Athens’ hotels increased compared to 2020 but remained significantly below the pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

It is reminded that only 50-55 percent of Athens hotels remained open during January – April 2021 due to the Covid-19 restrictions, with the number rising to 87 percent in June after Greece’s opening to tourism and gradually increasing to 100 percent by the end of the year.

Demand also picked up with occupancy rates reaching 47 percent in June; 68 percent in July and August; and 71 percent in September.

However, the emergence of the Omicron variant during winter severely affected the sector from November onwards with occupancy rates reaching 27 percent in January 2022.

Overall, in 2021, the total room inventory (TRI) reached 42.8 percent, which is up compared to 20.8 percent in 2020 but bellow the 77.5 percent of 2019 (standard methodology).

The average daily rate (ADR) reached 95 euros in 2021, from 72 euros in 2020 and 106 euros in 2019.

Source: GBR Consulting

Athens’ hotels score high for safety

Despite the challenging circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, hotels in Athens scored high for safety in 2021.

According to GBR’s survey, guests were satisfied by the safety measures adopted by Athens’ hotels and rated their stay with 8.7/10 points.

They also rated hotel infrastructure with 8.7 points the quality/price ratio with 8.5 points.

The overall satisfaction score of Athens reached 8.1/10 points in 2021 compared to 8.2 in 2020.

Photo source: Region of Attica

Greek and foreign travelers were attracted mainly by Athens’ archaeological sites and culture (46 percent). Thirty-five percent considered Athens a “must-see” destination, while 22 percent said the city was easily accessible.

For 20 percent of respondents Athens was a transit point.

In addition, 20 percent of travelers considered Athens a safe destination to visit amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the other hand, travelers rated Athens with 6.5 points for environmental pollution and cleanliness, and 6.1 points for noise pollution.

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Athens, Greece. Photo source: @Visit Greece

Athens’ tourism industry will cover lost ground and start to rebound during the second semester of 2022, provided that Covid-19 travel restrictions have loosened, Athens International Airport (AIA) CEO Yiannis Paraschis told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday.

According to Paraschis, the Greek capital’s tourism industry showed resilience during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Although passenger traffic has dropped 45 percent since the start of the year compared to 2019 levels, we are receiving positive messages for the tourism season ahead… The second semester has always been a very significant period for Athens [in terms of arrivals]. We strongly hope that travel restrictions will improve …. allowing Athens to cover lost ground,” he said.

It is reminded that Greece has announced the official opening of the tourism season on March 1, while earlier in February Tourism Minister Vasilis Kikilias confirmed that demand for Greek destinations is gaining momentum.

The AIA Chief also referred to the city’s strong connection with the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry which he expects to rebound in the future.

Paraschis participated in the online presentation of the “17th Survey on Guest Satisfaction and Hotel Performance in Attica” conducted by the Athens – Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association and GBR Consulting.  Also presented were the results of a travel experience study compiled by Athens Airport and the city’s hotel association.

Covid-19 affects air arrivals in January

Photo © GTP

AIA’s passenger traffic continued to be substantially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and its impact on air travel in January 2022, amounting to 773 thousand and being below the respective 2019 levels by 44.5 percent.

In the domestic market, traffic was below the respective 2019 levels by 36.3 percent, while in the international sector, passenger demand presented a 48.4 percent decline vs the corresponding 2019 traffic.

Strong intention for travel

Data presented by AIA during the online event, confirmed the strong will of people to travel despite the ongoing travel restrictions and difficult circumstances of the pandemic.

It is reminded that Athens welcomed a total of 12.35 million passengers in 2021, which is up by 52.8 percent over 2020 figures but still down by 51.7 percent compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

Hellenic Parliament, Athens. Photo © Maria Theofanopoulou

According to the AIA survey:

– six out 10 passengers came from abroad

– younger generations adapted more easily to the new circumstances

– passenger flows from Greece’s source tourism markets started increasing with 12 percent coming from Germany; 12 percent from the US; 11 percent from the UK; 9 percent from France and 6 percent from Italy.

Meanwhile, the survey found that the “fear of crowds” phenomenon affected Athens’ tourism industry with foreign air travelers opting for regional and summer destinations in 2021.

As a result:

– only 55 percent of inbound travelers stayed in Athens in 2021 compared to 68 percent in 2019.

– travelers stayed in Athens for three days instead of four like they did in 2019.

The survey was conducted during July – December 2021 on a sample of 6,481 foreign air travelers.

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The 8th Travel Trade Athens 2022, the annual B2B tourism event of the Municipality of Athens will return to the Greek capital as a live event during May 9-10.

Every year, Travel Trade Athens brings together Greek and foreign tourism professionals with the aim to promote the Greek capital to international markets. Since its inception, it has hosted over 500 foreign tourism executives from 35 countries, and more than 16,000 B2B meetings.

Following a successful hybrid organization in 2021, the Travel Trade Athens 2022 will take place as an in-person event in accordance with the latest Covid-19 health protocols announced by Greek authorities.

The event will host 70 representatives of foreign tourism agencies and enterprises; MICE professionals from Greece’s main tourism source markets including the UK and North America; and journalists from international tourism media.

In addition, a total of 100 executives of Athens’ tourism businesses will have the opportunity to participate in the event.

“The 8th Travel Trade Athens will offer a valuable opportunity to reintroduce the international tourism market to the city… Day by day Athens is changing through small- and large-scale works offering even more possibilities to its visitors,” Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis said.

This year’s event, for the second time will include an educational conference specially designed to meet the needs of the Athenian tourism market.

The 8th Travel Trade Athens is organized by the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (EATA) throught the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB), in cooperation with the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA).

Registration is open at https://www.traveltradeathens.gr/.

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Photo source: @Athens – Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association

Athens’ cultural sites and Covid-19 health and safety measures were among the reasons why leisure travelers chose to visit the Greek capital in 2021, according to data presented during an online press event on Tuesday by Athens International Airport (AIA) and the Athens – Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association.

The association’s “17th Survey on Guest Satisfaction and Hotel Performance in Attica” conducted by GBR Consulting, found that Greek and foreign travelers were attracted mainly by Athens’ archaeological sites and culture (46 percent).

Thirty-five percent considered Athens a “must-see” destination, while 22 percent said the city was easily accessible.

For 20 percent of respondents Athens was a transit point.

In addition, 20 percent of travelers considered Athens a safe destination to visit amid the coronavirus pandemic. The percentage was at 43 percent in 2020.

The overall satisfaction score of Athens reached 8.1/10 points in 2021 compared to 8.2 in 2020.

Photo: Shutterstock

According to data provided by AIA, in 2021, Athens welcomed a total of 12.35 million passengers, up by 52.8 percent over 2020 figures but still down by 51.7 percent compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

Domestic passengers exceeded 2020 levels by 52.8 percent and international passengers by 52.9 percent but lagged well behind 2019 levels by 40.6 percent and 56.6 percent, respectively.

Moreover, 55 percent of foreign travelers stayed in Athens, compared to 68 percent in 2019.

Most foreign travelers came from Greece’s traditional source tourism markets, namely Germany, the US, the UK, France and Italy.

Vaccination certificate first option for traveling

A Greek police officer scanning the EU Digital COVID Certificate of a passenger, upon her arrival at Athens International Airport. Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis

A Greek police officer scanning the EU Digital COVID Certificate of a passenger, upon her arrival at Athens International Airport. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis

During the press event, AIA and the association presented the results of a travel experience survey conducted during July – December 2021 on a sample of 6,481 foreign air travelers.

The survey found that 90 percent of international travelers entered Greece with a valid Covid-19 vaccination certificate, 8 percent presented a negative PCR test result while only 2 percent traveled with a Covid-19 recovery certificate.

Athens scores high for Covid-19 protocols

International travelers were also asked to evaluate Greece’s Covid-19 travel protocols. According to the survey’s findings:

43 percent of foreign travelers were well-informed about Greece’s safety measures. Only 8 percent said they were not informed

70 percent evaluated Greece’s travel protocols (documents, PLF form, tests) as “very easy” to comply with. Only 1 percent found it “difficult”

45 percent said the Covid testing requirement for their return to the destination of residence had not affected their decision to travel to Athens. However, 20 percent said it had significantly affected their decision

58 percent said they felt safe in Athens’ accommodation facilities

64 percent of travelers said their experience was better or much better than expected

59 percent would definetly visit the city again, while 40 percent will probably return to Athens in the future.

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Greece is fifth among the Top 10 preferred countries for travel by Europeans, according to the latest survey released this week by the European Travel Commission (ETC).

France is in the lead, followed by Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Portugal, Turkey, the UK and Austria.

According to the ETC’s “Monitoring Sentiment for Domestic and Intra-European Travel – Wave 10”, 36 percent of ‘early bird’ travelers plan to go on their next trip in May or June.

On the downside, despite previously higher intentions to travel, the Omicron outbreak and fragmented Covid-19 restrictions have negatively affected Europeans’ travel confidence at the beginning of 2021 with a mere 17 percent having fully booked their next trip.

According to the data, three in five Europeans plan to travel by June 22, down by 8 percent over the previous findings. Travel intention among Europeans dropped to 61 percent compared to spring and summer 2021 but is still stronger than one year ago (54 percent), the study found.

ETC analysts note that restrictions and requirements, even for vaccinated or recovered travelers, have hampered Europeans’ readiness to travel and left many unsure about the timing of their next trip. A patchwork of policies across Europe towards the validity period of the EU Digital Covid Certificate also failed to facilitate travel. 

However, ETC analysts note that early-summer prospects are promising, as Europeans intend to holiday for longer and spend more. A total of 38 percent of those polled said they opted for trips of over 10 nights compared to the previous survey, while the share of travelers planning to spend more than 2,000 euros rose by 31 percent, specifically among those with travel plans in May or June 2022.

The majority (72 percent) of those surveyed said they would stick to their original travel plans despite possible changes.

Half of those ready to travel prefer European destinations while 32 percent prefer going domestic.

Leading reasons for travel? Sun and beach (15 percent), city break (15 percent) and culture and heritage (13 percent). According to the same findings, business travel is slowly recovering with 15 percent claiming they would be traveling for business or conference events. Leisure travel is still a top choice for 63 percent but is down by 11 percent.

Hesitation on when to travel has increased from 11 percent in September 2021 to 21 percent in December. 

Top concerns for potential travelers include quarantine measures (18 percent), increasing Covid-19 cases at destination of choice (15 percent), and potential changes in travel restrictions (14 percent). 

Lastly, an increasing number of Europeans believe that strict health protocols at destinations have a direct negative effect on their travel experiences. Europeans said they wanted a healthy balance between Covid protective measures and free movement. 

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