Brits welcome in Greece for holiday even without Europe-wide vaccine certificate, says tourism minister

  • Video report by ITV News Europe Editor James Mates

British holidaymakers will be welcomed into Greece with or without a Europe-wide ‘vaccine passport’, the country’s tourism minister has said.

Haris Theoharis showed ITV News a vaccine certificate that will be used for travel to and from Israel as of April – and he is confident a similar arrangement can be reached with the UK.

That will come even if no European vaccine certificate is forthcoming, he says.

“I have to be categorical that bilateral or multilateral deal aside – it doesn’t matter – the UK will be open in Greece,” he said.

“Technical issues are to be solved, but I think the political will is there.”

A vaccine certificate could be arranged between the UK and Greece, like one here for travel to and from Israel.

Last week, Mr Theoharis said Britons who have had the Covid vaccine will be able to travel to Greece and will no longer be required to self-isolate upon arrival.

Even those who have not been vaccinated will be able to visit, as long as they produce a negative Covid-19 test before travelling.

Greece’s vaccine rollout is accelerating, with the entire adult population on some holiday islands already having the jab.

And with fewer than one in 10 hotel rooms occupied in Athens last year, hotelier Evgenios Vassilikos fully back plans to ensure Brits can fly to Greece.

“Ideally we would like a European deal for everyone to travel but otherwise we have to find other ways for people to come to Greece,” he told ITV News.

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The Greek economy and Greek tourism industry cannot afford another summer like the last one, which is why they are determined that this July and August the Brits will be back.

Mr Theoharis said last week: "From the start of our vaccination programme it has been a digital programme.

"We've sent SMS messages to confirm appointments, so all this is very digital.

“We've created vaccination certificates, which show that someone is vaccinated.

"It has three modes of identification: It has a QR code, a signature and a URL which you can verify. It can be done automatically.

"I'm sure in the UK the discussions are still ongoing. I'm sure the UK has something equivalent to automate as much as possible."

The Acropolis has been closed but Greece will want it open to visitors again soon.

Despite his optimism, the UK government is yet to rule on whether holidays abroad will be allowed this year.

Curbs on foreign travel will remain in place until at least May 17, with an announcement some point before.