Greeks say holiday cancellations 'pouring in' after the country is designated amber by UK government

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Corfu and the rest of the Ionian islands are popular with visitors from the UK - Slow Images
Corfu and the rest of the Ionian islands are popular with visitors from the UK - Slow Images

Greece is disappointed that it has been designated an ‘amber’ destination by Britain, with hoteliers reporting that cancellations are “pouring in” from British tourists.

Greece had hoped to be declared a safe ‘green’ country on the UK’s controversial traffic light system of tourist destinations. But along with Italy, Spain and other countries popular with British visitors, it was judged to be ‘amber’.

That means that Britons returning to the UK will have to go through a 10-day period of self-isolation and two PCR tests. The decision is set to be re-examined in three weeks.

“Cancellations are starting to pour in for this [three-week] period,” Minas Hatzimichail, the president of the Hoteliers’ Association of the island of Kos told the Greek TV station ANT1. “Vaccinations in major tourist destinations should have happened in time. Europe should have received the message that we are safe”.

Babis Voulgaris, the president of the Hoteliers’ Association of Corfu, said tourism operators are “disappointed” with Greece’s amber classification.

“There have been cancellations following the UK’s announcement,” he said.

He believes the situation will improve in the next three weeks, but said the classification is little surprise given Greece's current Covid-19 situation and vaccination rates.

Greece’s vaccination drive has been criticized for moving slowly. So far, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, only 11.7% of the country’s population has received both jabs.

In March, the government announced that it would prioritize vaccinating small islands of less than 1,000 residents and has now extended that to islands with populations of up to 10,000 inhabitants.

Greek islands like Corfu are heavily reliant on British tourists
Greek islands like Corfu are heavily reliant on British tourists

“All islands with a population of less than 10,000 will be fully vaccinated by the end of May,” Marios Themistokleous, the Secretary of the Health Ministry, told The Telegraph.

"The estimate that by the end of June, all islands will be vaccinated as planned, is not far off, but we don't know the exact date yet."

Greece’s tourism season is officially set to begin on May 17. After Germany, Britain is the second biggest market for Greek tourism, with 3.5 million visitors arriving from the UK in 2019.

For islands like Corfu, the British are the main market. Last year, 40% of hotels in Corfu did not open for business in the tourist season. “We are expecting that more will open this year”, said Mr Voulgaris. “This development simply delays our opening. I am confident that in three weeks we will be ‘green’ and will be able to get our bookings back”.