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Φωτο: Nikos Libertas / SOOC

Greece to draw on diplomatic ties in push for UK green list

According to the decision by the UK’s Ministry of Transport,  English tourists can currently travel freely to Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Falkland Islands.

Greece is expected to pick up efforts in coming days to convince the UK government that it is safe enough to be put on the green list of countries for British tourists. In the first week of June, the UK government will update the list in a decision that will play a crucial role in how well the country’s tourism season perform this year.

After the recent trip to London by Greek Tourism Minister, Greek government officials say that they are "moderately optimistic" that the country will make the green list. However, there have been a growing number of reports in British press in recent days saying that nothing is likely to change for both Greece and Spain.

The UK's green list offers those who choose to visit one of the countries on it the opportunity to return from their trip without having to quarantine.

Arrivals to the UK from the countries on the amber list, such as Greece, are required to conduct molecular tests before departure and the second and eighth day after arrival, along with a ten-day self-isolation period.

According to the decision by the UK’s Ministry of Transport,  English tourists can currently travel freely to Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Falkland Islands.

British officials have indicated that no major changes to the lists are expected in the next review scheduled for June 7, but at the same time, ministers have stressed publicly that they want to add as many countries as possible to the green list.

Helping Greece’s cause to open up links between the two countries are some of the largest companies in the business.

A few days ago, the heads of British Airways and Heathrow Airport requested the addition of Greece, France and Spain to the green list. EasyJet’s CEO also recently said that the UK was falling behind other countries in reopening travel as he criticized UK government policy for being "very confusing".

In Europe’s south, however, countries are not sitting idly by waiting for a British decision.

Valencia and consequently the whole of Spain are pushing strongly for Britain to add the second Iberian country to its proposed destinations. The president of the Valencia region is set to meet with the British ambassador to Spain this week to push for the region to be added to the green list of eligible travel destinations.

Portugal winning so far

So far, the big winner is Portugal. The recovery of its tourism sector, along with the containment of the pandemic, is giving the local economy a fresh push.

Portugal is likely to revise its economic growth forecast to 5 percent this year as tourists help boost the country's recovery.

The government estimates that the country's GDP will grow by one percentage point higher than the 4 percent forecast it had issued in April, Portuguese Finance Minister Joao Leao told Bloomberg. "We are really very optimistic," he added.

It is no coincidence that airlines have scheduled flights to Portugal from 21 different airports in the United Kingdom. For its part, Europe's largest travel agent, TUI, has launched at least 44 flights to the Iberian country between May 17th and 30th.

With a population similar in size to Greece, Portugal has managed to significantly contain the spread of the coronavirus, with daily cases in triple digits and deaths per day being consistently below 10.

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