US demand for travel to Greece is high for summer 2021

The world is slowing opening back up after many travel restrictions throughout the past year.

Delta plane gets ready for takeoff.

As the world slowly opens up after months of travel restrictions because of COVID-19, Greece has announced its plan to welcome all tourists for summer 2021. Despite the US State Department advising Americans to avoid traveling to Greece and more than 100 other countries, Athens will soon be welcoming direct flights from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark and Washington DC.

Last week, Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said that demand for travel from the United States to Greece this summer is high and bookings are expected to rise in the immediate future. According to the minister, American Airlines, which connects Athens with New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, will increase seat capacity into Greece this summer compared to 2019. “These actions show that Greece remains at the top of American tourists’ preferences,” the minister said.

In addition, Delta will fly from New York to Athens every day starting on May 28. On May 15, all international travelers will be required to provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test that was taken within 72 hours of traveling. Alternatively, travelers can use documentation to prove they have been vaccinated, or provide proof of antibodies against the virus if they have recently recovered. In addition, countrywide travel will be permitted and some cultural activities will be allowed. “I am extremely satisfied with the response we have received for Greek tourism’s opening to the American market,” Theoharis said.

The beautiful Santorini, Greece is ready to open back up to the public.

Additionally, all tourists that enter Greece will be subject to random testing, just like last year. “An important difference this year is that we can use rapid tests,” Theoharis said, when he was talking about the virtual ITB Berlin trade show from the Athens Acropolis Museum. If a traveler tests positive, they will need to isolate immediately.

The government is looking to slowly lift Greece’s restrictions by May 14, in accordance with health considerations “if conditions allow,” Theoharis said. They hope to be able to open up all destinations, including islands, major hotels, sites, museums, and restaurants. Of course, while the pandemic continues, general restrictions will be in place throughout Greece that apply to tourists and citizens. Expect mandatory mask-wearing in public places and throughout travel journeys, and social-distancing measures. The rules regarding ferries are expected to be announced in mid-April. Last summer, domestic ferry travel within Greece, a great way to hop between islands, was permitted, requiring all passengers to wear masks, social distance, and complete a health status questionnaire before boarding. This year’s rules will most likely be similar.

COVID-19 vaccine being put into a needle so that it can be injected into someone.

Greece has faced lockdowns and restrictions throughout 2020 and 2021 due to rises in COVID-19 cases. However, the number of deaths from coronavirus is currently significantly lower than many other EU countries. Their vaccination program is increasing and the government has announced they’ll prioritize the vaccination of people working in the tourism industry, as soon as the most vulnerable are vaccinated. They are also mandating the frequent testing of employees “in order to provide both safety and peace of mind,” Theoharis said, and they hope to prioritize the vaccination of all citizens of some small islands, to create “COVID-free” destinations. The Tourism Minister confirmed that all health needs related to COVID-19, including hospitalization, will be provided by the Greek state at no cost to tourists. This rule was in place during last year’s summer season. “Today, one can add to the incomparable advantages of Greece as a tourist destination, its commitment to offer and guarantee the health and safety of each and every tourist,’ said Theoharis.