United Kingdom

Greek hotel bosses accuse UK Government of banning travel so that tourists spend more money at home

Greek hoteliers believe the UK Government is deliberately keeping Britons from holidaying abroad so that they will spend more money at home, according to the boss of a leading travel company.

Graham Simpson, the founder of Simpson Travel, says those who run tourist businesses in Greece cannot understand why Britain is preventing visits to destinations where Covid figures are extremely low.

They are now challenging the UK Government to justify its decision by providing facts and data.

Greek hoteliers believe the UK Government is deliberately keeping Britons from holidaying abroad so that they will spend more money at home. Pictured: Zakynthos in Greece

Speaking about a prevailing mood of 'shock, despair and worry', Mr Simpson said: 'I had a meeting with 18 hoteliers and the MP of Zakynthos [an Ionian island], who are extremely concerned.

'Usually 70 per cent of hotel guests are from the UK. They don't understand why British tourists are unable to travel to Greece.

'They believe the UK Government is trying to keep their population in the UK to ensure money is kept in the UK.'

Greek hoteliers are now challenging the UK Government to justify its decision by providing facts and data. Pictured: Santorini in Greece

Describing the vaccination programme in Greece as 'tremendous', Mr Simpson, who lives part of the year in Paxos with his Greek wife Yianna, said he had been fully vaccinated by April.

He said Paxos had recorded zero deaths and only five cases in the past five months. 

There had been no cases on the Ionian island of Meganisi and the situation was similar on Lefkada, Kefalonia, Ithaca and Zakynthos.

He added: 'On Corfu, the island with the biggest population of around 120,000, there have been ten to 15 cases a day. 

Vaccination is taken very seriously and a new law means anyone working in the travel industry must be vaccinated.

'You are more likely to get infected at Gatwick Airport where people have encountered queues of two or more hours alongside other arrivals from around the world and confronted with disorganisation and untrained staff. 

'It's clear the Government have not made any plan for the UK population to travel this summer.'

In the past seven days there were 64 infections per 100,000 people reported in Greece – a number which has been falling for ten days straight. 

However, it is still marginally higher than the UK, which has reported 61 cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days. There have been 12,346 Covid-related deaths reported in Greece since the pandemic began.

Corfu Hoteliers' Association president Babis Voulgaris told Crete newspaper Enimerosi: 'The UK has been very tough. They didn't add any new countries to the green list and, although there is great demand for travel, bookings aren't being made. In some places they are less than ten per cent [of usual levels].'

In a bid to lure back holidaymakers and other travellers, the Greek authorities launched 'Operation Blue Freedom' to inoculate everyone on its 200-plus occupied islands by the end of June. 

Last month, Greece's tourism minister Harry Theoharis described the country's vaccination programme as 'a model for pandemic management'.

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