Greece looks set to be the first country to throw open its borders and wave in Brit tourists when we can finally travel abroad safely once again.
Foreign holidays have been off the menu for almost a year, thanks to lockdown. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised that he will reveal the date that holidaymakers can start booking their summer breaks by April 12.
While May 17 has been suggested as one possible date for restarting international travel, most commentators see mid-to-late June as a more likely timeframe.
And in an aggressive move to capture as much of the vital tourism revenue as he can, the Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis looks set to welcome UK-based tourists with vaccination certificates without the need for quarantine or Covid tests.
He says that vaccination certificates could be an “alternative to negative testing” and hinted that Greece could re-open to British tourists by the middle of May.
Theoharis added that rapid testing would enable tourists to visit even if they haven’t yet been jabbed but, he says, “it’s still a hassle standing in line getting tested.”
“With this system, we’d be instituting two lanes in airports as it were. The vaccination lane and the non-vaccination lane which would facilitate travel quite a bit.”
There’s fierce competition between Greece and other Mediterranean holiday hotspots such as Cyprus and Turkey to scoop up as many bookings from Brits as possible. The relative success of the UK’s vaccination programme makes British tourists a particularly desirable prospect.
A source within the Greek tourism sector told the Sun: “We’re in a race to get them, in fact everyone in Europe is in a race to get them.
"If 3.5 million come, as they did in 2019, it will be fantastic for us.”
Portugal's secretary of state for tourism, Rita Marques, says her country is hoping to welcome Brits from back.
She told the BBC: "I do believe that Portugal will soon allow restriction-free travel, not only for vaccinated people, but those who are immune or who test negative."
She reassured potential visitors that "everything will be ready by mid-May" because the pandemic situation in the country is "stable".
Savvas Perdios, deputy tourism minister for Cyprus, said his country also had high hopes to see British tourists on its beaches sooner rather than later.
"It's too early to give figures," he said, "but I can say over the next few weeks and days we will be in talks with all the tour operators. TUI, Jet2, Love holidays, easyJet, Sunville, Mercury, Olympic will be among them."
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