Tourism: UK Mass Cancellations

The United Kingdom’s decision to keep Greece on the Orange list of destinations and downgrade Portugal to the same category by quarantining those returning from those countries dealt a heavy blow to the Greek and Portuguese tourism and aviation industries.

The result is a flurry of cancellations for June bookings to Greece and an even bigger problem with travel from Portugal. Flights from Portugal to the UK have become five times more expensive overnight, according to Bloomberg, as significant numbers of Britons in the Iberian country try to return before being quarantined for ten days starting next Wednesday.

Jet2 has canceled all international flights and travel packages until July 1. At the same time, TUI UK canceled travel packages from the UK to Spain and Greece until mid-June due to uncertainty. However, the CEO of Ryanair has expressed optimism that despite this problem with the UK market in June, international travel will be simplified from July, as restrictions will be lifted due to the increase in the number of vaccinations. Less optimistic is easyJet, which has planned more than 500 flights to Portugal, many of which will now be canceled.

The Greek government, despite Deputy Prime Minister Akis Skertsos, does not seem surprised, saying that in any case, the period from mid-May when the borders open until the end of June is a test. However, at the same time, the Greek government has significantly improved the epidemiological data reporting process, in accordance with the specifications requested by the UK and other countries, in order to expedite its reclassification to the Green List. Some new announcements from the British capital are expected the day after Monday, but do not anticipate particularly positive developments in Greece. The next comprehensive assessment of the destinations is scheduled for 28 June.

The UK, the most important market along with Germany, from which Greece attracts travelers, on Thursday not only did not include the Greek islands on the green list (exempt from quarantine upon return) as expected, but also kicked Portugal off the green list. Putting it “in the orange” direction and seven other countries (outside the European Union) on the “red” list. The British are allowed to travel abroad, but when they return from destinations not on the “green” list, they must be quarantined for at least 5 days, and usually for 10. Which is tantamount to a complete ban on travel to these destinations.

The British market is the second most important market for Greek tourism after Germany. From here, our country attracted 3.5 million travelers in 2019 and one million last year, according to the Bank of Greece, resulting in revenues of 2.5 billion in 2019 and 749 million in 2020. It should be noted, however, that Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport saw a significant increase in international arrivals in April and May compared to the travel deadline for the respective months of 2020.

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