Published on : Friday, April 30, 2021
In spite of overtourism in the years earlier, 2021 might be a year of “desperate for tourism” — with even Venice, Barcelona and Reykjavik eager for visitors to return. Places simply selling beauty spots and sunsets are now marketing their low infection numbers and high vaccination rates, projecting attractive offers from free vaccinations and financial incentives to long-stay visas for remote workers.
Greece, where a fifth of jobs and GDP are tourism reliant, is currently one of the most open countries in Europe — with EU residents, along with those from the UK, US, Israel, Serbia and the UAE already allowed to visit if they possess proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival or that they have been fully vaccinated. Tourists from the rest of the world are due to be allowed to visit Greece from May 15.
In March, Greece tourism minister Harry Theoharis announced that as soon as the most vulnerable group would be vaccinated, the country would prioritize those working in tourism. Vaccinations on islands with fewer than 1,000 residents are due to be completed by the end of April, with the effort expanding to the larger islands. The plans have won the confidence of airlines; hence, Ryanair is launching new services from the UK airports to Kos, Santorini and Corfu; Delta is due to restart flights to Athens from New York on May 28 and launch a new direct route from its main hub, Atlanta, from July. “We are more than optimistic, we are ready,” said Theoharis.
For Israel, early vaccine rollout means that it currently has a higher proportion of fully vaccinated people compared to any other country besides the Seychelles, at 56 per cent. Israel Tourism minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen announced plans to capitalize on its vaccine advantage. “We cannot miss this opportunity — and as minister of tourism I won’t,” said Farkash-Hacohen.
The US, UK and UAE will be key targets of Israel, with digital billboard advertisements soon to go up in Times Square, Piccadilly Circus and Dubai as part of a global campaign. The government will also offer incentives to airlines to fly into Eilat, promoting a series of large international events, including the Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, a music festival in Timna Park and a joint Israel-UAE cycling race.
Israel’s travel hotspots are more than ready — from the increasingly cool ancient city of Jaffa to the vast and wild Negev desert, where the smart Six Senses Shaharut is finally due to open in August.