Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis took part in an informal meeting of EU tourism ministers via video conference earlier this week as part of a new proposal to better coordinate the EU’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The videoconference meeting was held at the initiative of the German Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Theoharis joined eight of his EU colleagues in forwarding proposals to the European Commission aimed at improving coordination between member states with regard to Covid-19 measures in efforts to eliminate uncertainty and restore safe travel once again.
Representatives from Greece, Malta, Austria, Croatia, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain signed a declaration for coordination between EU states which will focus on facilitating seamless and safe tourism within the EU and the Schengen area.
Theoharis urged EU authorities to take immediate measures and to demonstrate decisiveness in order to safeguard the next tourism season, which will interject much-needed funds into the nation’s coffers.
The Greek minister said a long-term plan is needed so that European tourist destinations remain competitive. Achieving this, Theoharis said, requires immediate adoption of common measures across Europe which “will provide tourists and businesses a basic framework of trust.”
Recommendations brought forth by Theoharis include the speedy implementation of short-term measures, including the establishment of common rules on data collected, health indicators on the basis of which restrictions will be set.
Restrictions, including advisories, bans, and quarantines, as well as categorization of countries and regions, and the need for open and prompt information between countries was also needed, according to the Tourism Minister.
At the same time, Theoharis underlined the importance of medium-term measures to be implemented in 2021, including the creation of a working group in cooperation with the private sector – including airline companies and airports – which will oversee adherence to the new rapid testing, aimed at replacing quarantine restrictions.
The new group will also be responsible for examining the economic and health effectiveness of proposals, ensuring that results are recorded accurately, and encouraging confidence, as well as keeping costs down.