Greek Plan to Open to Tourists to Be Unveiled Wednesday

Restarting tourism is key to the government's economic recovery plan, with the country expected to reopen its borders by July 1.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and members of his cabinet are due on Wednesday to unveil his government’s plan for reopening the country’s tourism market and for restarting the economy, after nearly two months in coronavirus lockdown.

Restarting tourism, which accounts for 18% of Greece’s gross domestic product, is the cornerstone of the economic recovery plan, and Kathimerini understands that this will include the reopening of the country’s borders to travelers from across the European Union, but also Israel, by July 1 at the latest and possibly by as early as June 15.

Major hotel chains operating on a seasonal basis have already adopted new protocols and safety measures to protect staff and guests from the spread of Covid-19 in anticipation of the government’s announcement for their reopening, after it gave year-round hotels and resorts the green light to restart operations on June 1.

Hoteliers have told Kathimerini that they expect a relatively good summer season given speculation that seasonal hotels may be allowed to reopen before July 1, but also plans for the resumption of flights within Europe’s passport-free Schengen Zone by the end of next month. Their prospects will become clearer once the government announces what specific support measures it is planning for the sector.

As far as the economy is concerned, the government is reportedly planning a series of “targeted measures” over the next few weeks and months. These may include a value-added tax reduction on transport and catering services, subsidies for employees on reduced hours, some form of compensation for property owners who suffered losses as a result of rent reductions, support for borrowers, as well as a reduction in the tax advance for businesses that have been hurt by the lockdown.

More permanent measures that may be presented on Wednesday to bolster the labor market include some reductions to social security payments for employers and employees in a bid to contain an anticipated spike in unemployment.

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