Greece is calling on EU authorities to “move more quickly” and embrace vaccine certificates, which could restore an element of mass travel in Europe. Speaking to the Financial Times, the country’s Tourism Minister, Harry Theocharis lamented: “Looking at the reaction of some countries to vaccination certificate proposals, I feel there’s a lot of short sightedness. There’s more to be done now to prepare ourselves.”
“Some countries are very much preoccupied with now” he said, as northern European nations, in particular, were unwilling to look ahead and plan for an economic recovery in the summer. We need to move more quickly,” he insisted.
Later this week, European leaders are expected to discuss the introduction of vaccination passports that could allow leisure and business travellers to move between countries after being inoculated.
However, opposition to this proposal is expected, because of fears they will set up a discriminatory two-tier system of citizens’ travel rights.
Tourism is vital to Greece, accounting for about a fifth of GDP and employment, according to the Greek Tourism Confederation. Despite a partial reopening last summer, the restrictions on international travel wiped 4 per cent from Greece’s GDP, the Financial Times reports, as hotel and accommodation revenues slumped by two-thirds.
The Mediterranean country has already signed a deal with Israel to allow people who had been vaccinated to move between the two countries without the need to show a negative virus result.