ATHENS – Greece is ready to use a COVID-19 travel certificate before its EU-wide launch on July 1 to attract foreign travellers and save its tourism sector from a second summer lost to the coronavirus.
Greece was one of the early advocates of a certificate that would ease European Union travel curbs and help pull the country’s economy from recession by lifting tourism revenues.
The European Council and parliament last week reached a deal on the digital green certificate following a rapid pick-up of vaccinations allowing widespread lifting of coronavirus curbs.
The European Parliament is expected to pass a law in the week from June 7 and more than a dozen EU countries, including France and Spain, have agreed to test the system before a launch on July 1.
The certificate would show if a person had received a vaccine, had a recent negative test or had immunity based on recovery.
“It is very, very simple. Essentially, it includes all the information that a member-state would need to welcome a traveller without imposing additional restrictions,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at a presentation of the pass on Friday.
“Greece is ready to launch this digital certificate earlier than July 1st,” he said, calling on EU countries to ensure they stick to the deadlines and facilitate travel over the summer.
The free certificate will take the form of a QR code on a smartphone or paper, letting authorities determine the status of a visitor based on records in their home EU country.
Greece, which relies on tourism for a fifth of its economy, saw just seven million tourists and 4 billion euros in revenues in 2020, down from a record 33 million visitors and 18 billion euros in revenues in 2019. It expects tourist arrivals this year to reach half the levels seen in 2019.