Greece Sets its Sights on More Sustainable Tourism in Santorini and Mykonos

Following a strong summer in both Santorini and Mykonos, the Greek Tourism Ministry has announced that moving forward it will focus on achieving more sustainable tourism practices at Greece’s most popular summer destinations.

According to Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, the government plans on conducting a special study that will help transform the country into a sustainable tourism destination.

During an interview with the Greek newspaper VIMA, Kikilias said, “This study is designed to capture the current situation on the two islands, regarding the incoming tourist flows, the offered tourism product, and their infrastructure. The aim is to transform them from ‘overcrowded peak season islands’ to ‘models of sustainable development.”

In mid-October this year, Kikilias spoke with Santorini’s Mayor Antonis Sigalas, where the two focused on sustainable tourism development and crowd management. They also discussed spatial planning, infrastructure development and integration, digital switchover, cruise management, as well as proposals in order to address the issue of parking and sustainable resource management.

Sigalas stressed his concerns of peak season in Santorini, as the island recorded 1.27 million arrivals from January to September this year, again being one of the top performers despite the pandemic. 

During the meeting, they also brought up the possibility of alternative forms of tourism, cultural heritage protection, and the development of the primary sector.

“The fact that this is such a popular destination can and should act as a milestone of our strategic decision to make Greece a model of sustainable tourism development worldwide,” Minister Kikilias pointed out.

According to the Minister, the tourism ministry will be ready to present its short and long-term plan over the next few weeks.

Greece to Open All Year Round for Tourists

After being named Europe’s top destination for 2021 at the World Travel Awards, Greece has announced it will not only focus on the peak summer season but will also be ready and willing to welcome international visitors all year round. 

Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias made the announcement in a recent interview with CNN, during his time at the international tourism trade fair at the World Travel Market (WTM), in London.

According to the Minister, Greece’s tourism board is working hard to “win over” every traveller, offering a new tourist experience, and at the same time promoting new destinations including more untouched islands, both small and large, the mainland, and city breaks.

Insights Greece - Greece to Open All Year Round for Tourists
Greece proves it’s more than just a summer destination

Minister Kikilias said, “Tourism is the locomotive of the Greek economy, something that proves again this year, in the midst of a pandemic, and brings new jobs that we aspire to be of better quality and better paid, enable through the 320 million euros of the RRF of the Ministry of Tourism for infrastructure, ports, marinas, upgrading of hotel units, for digitization, green development, and a sustainable system of the sustainable tourism product.”

The Minister stressed there is more to Greece than just a few popular islands. “It doesn’t always have to be to the two or three branded places that people discovered in the 50s and the 60s,” he said, adding that Greece has many beautiful destinations that he believes will appeal to tourists from the UK, the US, France and beyond.

Concerning infrastructure in specific popular destinations including Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes to name a few, Kikilias said that Greece has 320 million euros from the Recovery and Resiliance Fund (RRF) to improve its infrastructure and build new infrastructure where it’s needed.

During his time at WTM London Minister Kikilas also met with a range of international tour operators, travel agents, and airline companies from Great Britain, the USA, and France and signed a number of new deals for 2022.  

And although the country will be open to tourists all year round, the official tourist season in Greece will commence in early spring (March-April). And with high volumes of bookings already taking place, 2022 is expected to be a very successful year for Greece’s tourism industry.

Athens Wins Best Airport Award for 2021

Athens took home the award for Best International Airport 2021 in the ’25-40 million passengers’ category at the annual Best Airport Awards held by ACI Europe.

Winners were announced at a Conference Dinner of the 31st ACI EUROPE Annual Congress and General Assembly, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland.

 The Best Airport Awards recognise excellence and outstanding achievement across the entire portfolio of airport activities. This year’s 17th edition of the celebrated accolades focused on the many ways in which airports are not only responding but innovating during the COVID-19 pandemic while focusing on the airport industry’s sustainability goals.

Insights Greece - Athens Wins Best Airport Award for 2021
Athens’ ‘Eleftherios Venizelos’ International Airport

“The busiest airport in Greece won the judges over by producing a plan for recovery that focuses on improving customer and passenger experience through the implementation of the Greek concept of ‘philoxenia’ or hospitality,” announced ACI Europe.

The judges particularly liked the way Athens Airport embraces AI and virtual reality (such as measuring passengers’ emotional engagement, offering a virtual assistant and a 3D virtual airport tour) in its bid to bring passenger experience to the next level.

The judging panel also highlighted the airport’s continued carbon management prowess, with ‘Airport Carbon Accreditation’ Level 3+ upheld in spite of the ongoing crisis. Furthermore, Athens Airport is not only committed to achieving Net Zero CO2 emissions by 2025 but also to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, the airport’s efforts to increase the use of renewable energy at the airport was praised.

The judging panel comprised representatives from the European Commission, EUROCONTROL, SESAR Joint Undertaking, International Transport Forum and ECAC. Eco-Innovation Award submissions were held to scrutiny by the Advisory Board of ‘Airport Carbon Accreditation’, and the Accessible Airport winner was identified with the help of the European Disability Forum.

Winners in All Categories

Under 5 million Passengers

Romania’s Cluj Avram Iancu International Airport.

Toulon-Hyères Airport was highly commended in this category.

5-10 Million Passengers

Falcone Borsellino Palermo Airport.

Milan Linate Airport was highly commended in this category.

10-25 Million Passengers

Vnukovo International Airport.

Porto Airport was highly commended in this category.

25-40 Million Passengers

Athens International Airport.

Lisbon Airport was highly commended in this category. 

Over 40 Million Passengers

 iGA Istanbul Grand Airport.

Barcelona and Madrid Airports were highly commended for this Award.

All You Need to Know About New Travel Rules for Greece 

If you’re planning on travelling to Greece anytime between now and March 2022, here’s what you’ll need to know regarding the new Covid 19 rules.

Who can travel to Greece

Greece is open to travellers from destinations outside the EU and Schengen Area with a low infection rate. International visitors from the following countries may travel to Greece without quarantine requirements: EU and Schengen Area countries, USA, UK, Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Moldova, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, UAE and Ukraine.

US Travellers to Greece

Following an EU recommendation to impose restrictions on US visitors due to Covid concerns, Greece’s Tourism Minister, Vassilis Kikilias announced that the country will continue to welcome Americans until the end of the summer season. According to the announcement, US travellers were allowed to enter the country for non-essential reasons, despite most European countries banning US arrivals after the EU’s recommendation. “Visitors and tourism professionals in the United States of America, and, of course, Greeks abroad, have shown and continue to show their love for Greece and their trust in the Greek tourism product,” Kikilias noted.

Insights Greece - All You Need to Know About New Travel Rules for Greece 
New rules for travelling to Greece

Arrivals from Montenegro and the Russian Federation

International visitors from Montenegro must present both a vaccination certificate and a negative PCR test. Travellers from the Russian Federation must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival or a negative antigen test was taken within 48 hours.

What are the Travel Restrictions in Greece?

Travellers from the countries allowed entry into Greece may skip quarantine, provided they have a negative PCR test within 72 hours before travel, proof of infection within the past 2-9 months, or proof they’ve been fully vaccinated, and completed their cycle at least 14 days earlier. Note: With a digital COVID certificate, you can enter Greece without quarantine or further testing requirements.

What Vaccinations are Accepted in Greece?

Vaccines that are accepted in Greece are Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novovax, Johnson + Johnson, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Cansino and Sputnik. This is in line with the official EU policy, which is to only admit those who have received EU-approved vaccines.

Proof of Negative Test in Greece 

Negative PCR tests must have been taken within 72 hours of departure, they must be written in English and need to include the passenger’s name and passport number. This does not apply to children under the age of 10. 

What Other Documents are Required to Enter Greece? 

-All visitors entering Greece must complete the Passenger Locator Form before travel, regardless of their COVID-19 status or point of departure. Once that’s successfully submitted, you’ll receive a QR code, which you’ll need to present before boarding your flight to Greece.

-The QR code will notify you if you are required to have an additional test done at the airport. If this is the case, you must self-isolate until you receive the results (this takes around 24 hours).

Do Kids Need to be Vaccinated to Enter Greece?

Children under the age of 12 can enter Greece without any COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements. However, children over the age of 12 must show a vaccination certificate, a certificate of recovery or a negative PCR/antigen test result.

What Happens if a Traveller Tests Positive to Covid at a Greek Airport? 

Greek officials have announced that targeted rapid checks will be carried out at airport entry points and quarantine hotels are ready to accommodate those who test positive during this process.

Domestic Travel in Greece

From Monday, September 13, all unvaccinated people in Greece will only be allowed to board a plane, ferry, train and bus for domestic travel between regions, if they have proof of a negative Covid-19 rapid antigen test result. This new rule for domestic travel in Greece will be in force until March 31, 2022, and the new negative rapid test rule is in place for travel to and from Greek destinations.

What Does this Mean for Travellers in Greece? 

As of September 13, anyone unvaccinated from the age of 12 and over in Greece, that wants to travel between regions by plane, ferry, train or bus will be required to do the following:

– present a negative rapid antigen test taken 48 hours prior to travel (a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours before travel will also be accepted).

– upload the test results to the government’s official website to issue a certificate. This must be printed out or saved to the passengers’ phone. 

When do Travellers Need to Present These Documents? 

Verification certificates will be required at check-in points at the airport, port, bus and train stations. If a traveller fails to present the proper documentation during boarding time at any of the above, they will not be allowed to travel. 

What Documents do Vaccinated Travellers need to show for Domestic Travel in Greece?

Vaccinated travellers and visitors that have recovered from the coronavirus don’t need to present a negative test to travel by plane, ferry, bus, or train in Greece; what is required of them is: 

-Travellers that are vaccinated must present a vaccination certificate showing that 14 days have passed since they received their full Covid-19 vaccination.

-Recovered Covid-19 patients must present a recovery certificate proving that they have recovered from the virus in the last six months.

What is Required for Children Aged 5-11? 

For children aged 5 to 11, medical authorities will provide a free-of-charge self-test, which must be performed at least 24 hours before departure. 

What are the Rules for Travelling by Car in Greece? 

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people travelling between Greek regions in private cars will not need to have any additional documentation.

Are Masks Mandatory in Greece?

-At the arrival and departure areas inside Greek airports, as well as during all domestic and international flights, both staff and passengers are required to wear a face mask at all times. Passengers that do not wear masks will not be allowed to board the plane. 

-All passengers must also wear masks when travelling on a ferry, train, bus or any form of public transport.  

-Masks must be worn at all times throughout journeys, in indoor spaces and in outdoor crowded areas in Greece.

What Rules apply to Restaurants, Cafes and Bars?

As of September 13, Greece is requiring proof of vaccination from people who wish to enter certain venues such as restaurants, taverns, cafes and bars. To enter an eatery in Greece, you will now need proof of vaccination or a certificate of recovery from Covid. These measures are expected to remain in place until March 31, 2022. 

What Rules are in Place for Visiting Archaeological Sites, Museums and Sporting Events in Greece?

While unvaccinated people can still visit museums and archaeological sites as well as cinemas and sports venues, they will need proof of a recent negative test. 

Are there any Other Restrictions in Place in Greece?

In areas with high infection rates, the government places tighter restrictions, which may include certain rules and curfews. You can keep up to date with what rules apply to each Greek destination here

For all the latest information and updates on travelling to Greece during Covid, head here.

Greece’s Archaeological Sites Shut During the Day

The Greek Culture Ministry has announced that Greece’s open-air archaeological sites will be shut between 12 pm and 5 pm from Tuesday, August 3, through Thursday, August 5, due to the extremely high temperatures expected over the next few days.

Greece is currently experiencing a heatwave with record-high temperatures to the end of the week, and the ministry says the shutdown has been imposed for the safety of visitors. 

Insights Greece - Greece’s Archaeological Sites Shut During the Day
Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion

This is the country’s worst heatwave in more than 30 years, as temperatures reached 45°C in some regions on Monday.

The highest temperature registered was 46.3C at Makrakomi in Fthiotis, on the eastern seaboard of mainland Greece. This temperature rating is the highest ever recorded by the observatory in its history.

The weather services forecast temperatures of 40°C to 42°C on the islands and 41°C to 43°C on the mainland for Tuesday, with highs of 44°C to 45°C in the Peloponnese and Thessaly.

In Athens, temperatures will exceed 40°C, with highs of 43°C and lows of 31°C, according to the Greek meteorological services.

Advice to the public, especially for babies, the elderly, and those in vulnerable groups, is to take measures to protect themselves from the heat, to avoid being outdoors during the peak of the day, avoid physical exercise outdoors, and stay hydrated.