EU members are yet to make a joint decision on when to reopen for non-essential travel, but several tourist-dependent countries have already chosen to walk alone, having lost part of the warm-season profits.
The European Union’s general idea for the upcoming summer is to let vaccinated and Covid-19 negative tested tourists in. It was suggested that the EU’s ‘green pass’ would serve this purpose.
But several more weeks are still needed to roll it out, and waiting for so long will cost southern European countries, who want holidaymakers back on their beaches, a lot of money.
It’s anyone’s guess why this time EU executives are not urging the bloc members to stick to some kind of a joint reopening strategy. Is it because of a failure of a previous common plan, regarding vaccines purchase and distribution?
Who knows. But, this time, seeing that waiting for a common approach would take a while, countries rushed to roll out their own reopening rules. Which means the tourists now need to do separate paperwork for every state they want to visit.
Greece was one of the first EU member states to go its own way on this. In fact, it was the country which managed to set up the bloc’s first ‘Covid-19’ free zone.
The island of Kastellorizo, with a population of some 500 people, was almost fully vaccinated under the government’s plan of prioritizing the immunization of small islands.
The aim was to support such tiny communities, some of which have very small medical facilities – but at the same time, to allow them to reopen their touristic business as soon as possible.
Greece is now fully reopening for tourism and is ready to accept visitors with a vaccination certificate or a negative Covid-19 test. Greece cannot wait until June when the EU’s ‘green passport’ for free traveling is expected to be rolled out.
The Greek government in Athens has a certain strategy while reopening tourism starting from the 14th of May. There are special protocols to be applied for tavern’s, hotels, transport.
Greece’s tourism minister Harry Theoharis agrees that for people craving to relax on a seashore, it would be difficult to follow certain protection rules. For the countries depending on tourism, like Italy and Spain the season could have already started.
The southern-European country of Italy also unrolled a program to vaccinate its small islands. The island of Elba – where the French emperor Napoleon was exiled – is included in the plan.
The campaign to immunize the islands is a very important one. In Elba, there is a hospital facility, which some other islands do not have, but the main goal was to preserve the health of our citizens.
Italy’s PM Mario Draghi confirmed that Italy will adopt the EU’s free travel document when it’s available in the second half of June. But suddenly it announced that the country will introduce its own ‘green pass,’ so from mid-May international tourists are welcome to visit.
Tourism matters so much for all the Italian regions that the idea of immunizing islands first turned into a scandal. Back in April, the head of the Emilia-Romagna region Stefano Bonaccini even called on the tourism minister Massimo Garavaglia to scrap the plan.
Tourist locations should not be privileged to the detriment of others. Instead, the government should work to provide as many vaccine doses as possible in the closest future, as well as elaborate on the vaccination passport, with equal rules for all in Europe.
Bigger Italian islands like Sicily also had certain concerns regarding the immunization plan, as they are no less dependent on tourism than the smaller ones.
It’s bad news, then, that neither Italy nor Greece is included in the ‘green list’ the UK drafted for its holidaymakers. As for the USA, the Department of State’s advisory dating back to April 20 clearly says: ‘Do not travel’ to both Italy and Greece because of high Covid-19 risk.
For Procida, the fact of being the first almost fully inoculated community in Italy, has a somewhat symbolic meaning. The island had been chosen as the culture capital of Italy for the next year.
However, for certain European countries, like Italy and Greece, the matter of meeting the 2022 season with hope is directly related to the money they can make from tourism in 2021.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2021.