Greece opens for international tourists in July – and cuts VAT on transport and coffee

Simon Calder
Distant dream: restaurants in central Athens in the summer of 2019: Simon Calder

As the race between southern European nations to attract summer tourists gathers pace, the Greek prime minister has announced international visitors will be welcomed from 1 July – with lower fares on public transport and cheaper coffee.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the domestic tourism season will begin on 15 June, with the first international holiday flights touching down 16 days later.

The news service Ekathimerini.com reported that passengers will be subject to random coronavirus tests at the airport.

At present anyone arriving in Greece from abroad must go into 14 days’ self-isolation. “This is mandatory, and the authorities will enforce it by prosecution and fines,” warns the Foreign Office.

The quarantine obligation will be lifted in time for the start of international flights.

Mr Mitsotakis said that VAT on public transport and non-alcoholic drinks will be cut from 24 to 13 per cent.

In a normal year, around three million UK visitors – the vast majority of them tourists – travel to Greece.

But British travellers may not initially benefit from the re-opening.

The soon-to-be-imposed self-isolation rules for passengers arriving back in the UK will scupper most holiday trips in June and possibly July.

Earlier this week, the Greek minister of tourism urged the UK to agree to mutual “quarantine immunity”.

On the BBC’s Coronavirus Newscast, Harry Theocharis said: “If we don’t impose quarantine for people coming to Greece from the UK from some day onwards, we would welcome if the UK extended the same thing.”

The UK's quarantine programme was announced by the prime minister on 10 May. The Home Office promises details of the policy will be revealed shortly, with the mandatory self-isolation beginning in June.

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