Post Pandemic Tourism Zone Under Discussion

israel tourism
A closed restaurant at Peraia beach in Thessaloniki, Greece, Tuesday. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)

A tripartite safe zone for tourism is under discussion by Israeli, Greek and Cypriot officials, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.

As the coronavirus pandemic eases in these countries, prospects of restoring travel and tourism in the region are being looked at.

The Greek initiative would not be practical until at least mid-June, however, and the Foreign Ministry of Israel cautioned that talks are in very early stages.

Greece’s Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said that “Israel is one of our strategic targets for the reopening of tourism in Greece. As a result, we have already started discussions and preliminary phase on how to align our hygiene standards and protocols which will allow travel to resume between the two countries. This is still early stages, but we are very hopeful that we can come to a mutual agreement.”

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz confirmed that he spoke with his Greek Counterpart Nikos Dendias on Tuesday about “the improving coronavirus situation in our countries and continued economic cooperation.”

For the time being, however, pandemic–related restrictions make any such plan impossible. Israel requires two weeks’ isolation after foreign travel.

There is a concern that ‏ COVID-19 carriers might arrive in Israel via Greece from E.U. countries with whom Greece maintains open borders under normal conditions.

Theoharis said his country is working to “establish requirements which will limit the possibility of someone with coronavirus to enter Greece in the first place…irrespective of the epidemiological phase the country is currently in.”

He promised that “Greece will stay a safe place despite opening borders and opening for tourism.”

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