Greece to benefit from Russia’s ban on tourist trips to Turkey
A recent ban on flights to Turkey disappointed many Russians who intended to travel there in the coming weeks. However, other potential tourist destinations got a chance to capitalise on the situation. Greece has already announced that it will allow Russians to enter the country without quarantine if they are vaccinated, have a certificate of immunity or a negative COVID-19 test.
Greece aims for 500,000 Russian tourists this summer, which is close to the pre-pandemic level of 2019 when the country hosted about 600,000 Russians, says Greek City Times. To achieve the goal, Greece is ready to accept Russian tourists vaccinated with Sputnik V, stated Greek Minister for Tourism Harry Theoharis in Moscow last week. “Russia is one of the countries from which its citizens will be able to visit us without restrictions,” said Theoharis. “They must either be vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies or have a negative test before their arrival in our country,” he explained.
According to the official, Greece will perform sampling checks on the border. “If a positive case is detected, it will be isolated immediately,” he said. The country’s acting security measures include a quota of 4,000 Russian tourists per week, which is expected to be lifted as of 14 May.
Previous estimates put the expected arrivals from Russia to Greece at around 300,000 for this year, but the assessment is likely to change if Moscow maintains a ban on flights to Turkey until June. The restriction is meant to cost Turkey, which is the largest market for Russian tourists, around 500,000 visitors. In 2019, before the outbreak of the pandemic that hit the tourism industry, Turkish resorts welcomed a total of 5,5 million visitors from Russia.
As for Greece, it experienced an explosion of inbound tourism from Russia at the beginning of the 2010s. In 2013 and 2014, arrivals exceeded 1 million per year, but later the continuous upward trend was interrupted by tensions between the European Union and Russia. As a result, arrivals from Russia halved in the following years. According to data from Russia’s Border Service of the Federal Security Service, Greece hosted 611,000 Russian tourists in 2019. It was a decrease of 9% compared to 2018, which pushed the Hellenic Republic down to the ninth place on the list of top destinations for Russian tourists. In Greece, Russians are considered big spenders, as they spend on average more than 1,000 euros per trip, while the Greek average does not exceed 600 euros per person.