British Tourists Begin Arriving in Greece After Ban is Lifted

As of July 15 the ban on direct tourist flights from the UK to Greece has been lifted; authorities say they continue to monitor the situation closely.

Greece began receiving British visitors on Wednesday after lifting a ban on arrivals from that country. The decision may prompt health concerns but it also opens one of the most important sources of revenues for Greek tourism.

The UK constitutes the second biggest market for Greece after Germany, accounting for 2.56 billion euros in takings last year.

Sources say many Britons are trying to find a flight to Greece, but cannot find direct ones as most are charter flights booked by tour operators.

“We are monitoring the numbers and the procedures we are applying, and we are happy with the results so far,” said Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t remain on alert. It doesn’t mean that we do not continue to monitor the situation. If necessary, we will take targeted measures,” he stressed, given the fact that the pandemic and the UK’s handling of it remain a matter of deep concern for many Greeks.

However the minister expressed confidence that the UK has been moving in the right direction in recent weeks, saying that he believes the authorities, “have the situation under control and that we won’t need to implement [additional] measures.”

Prior to the pandemic the outgoing tourism from the UK amounted to 70 million travelers per year. Their top destinations in order of popularity were: Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, the US. Greece was the sixth most popular destination, while the most popular destinations for Britons in the Mediterranean are Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

British visitors also rank relatively high in terms of average spending per capita in Greece; according to the Bank of Greece, in 2019 this figure was 733 euros per visitor, while the average stay had a duration of 8.7 days.

The top three destinations in Greece for British tourists are the Ionian Islands, the Southern Aegean and Crete.

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