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Greece Is Hoping To Reopen For Tourists In May 

Greece is hoping to reopen its doors for tourists and travelers in May, the 14th of May to be more specific. The country’s tourism minister recently made the announcement of what he claimed was a “much-awaited date for the tourist season to officially begin.”

Haris Theoharis told the world’s largest tourism fair, the IBT Berlin Tourism Fair, that anyone who’s been vaccinated for Covid-19, possesses antibodies, or has tested negative for Covid-19 will be able to visit Greece anytime after May 14th. 

“We aim to open tourism by May 14th with specific rules and updated protocols. Until then, we will gradually lift restrictions if conditions allow.” 

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This reopening makes sense considering tourism is one of the largest sectors of the economy in Europe, but especially Greece. Athens specifically has been struggling greatly to cope with the loss of income and revenue that normally comes with tourism season. Authorities in Greece have even called upon the European Union to create vaccination certificates so that individuals who have received their doses can travel more easily. 

This week the European Union commission’s vice president, Margaritis Schinas, claimed that he believed a digital vaccination pass would be available by the summer.

“I think after the last summit there is convergence on the need for this digital vaccination certificate. It will be a European product and will be the same throughout Europe.”

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Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s president, however, also warned that there are a lot of legal and technical dangers with creating digital vaccination certificates, so it will have to be methodically planned out to ensure every citizen’s identity remains safe. 

One in five Greek residents work in tourism, in fact, it’s the country’s largest economic sector. The government has claimed that it’s aiming to attract at least 50% of the 31.3 million people who typically visit Greece annually in non-pandemic circumstances. 

According to the UK government the May 17th is the earliest date that the nation will allow international travel to occur. This projection was a part of the government’s roadmap for navigating its third national lockdown. UK tourists are Greece’s second largest source of visitors as well, so officials from Athens have been working closely with Britain on distributing vaccines and creating updated travel guidelines. 

Theoharis claims that once all elderly and vulnerable individuals are vaccinated it could begin bringing back employees to its tourism sector. The government in Greece also said that it expects the country will be able to meet this goal once it receives its order of more than 2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

Americans Covid-19 Vaccine

Greece And United Kingdom In Talks To Begin Implementing Vaccine Passports For Travel 

Greece is currently in technical talks with the United Kingdom over allowing Britons carrying a vaccine passport entry into the nation. Concerns from the rest of the European Union over new strains and a slowing of vaccine rollouts, however, may delay those discussions. 

Haris Theoharis is Greece’s tourism minister who recently spoke with the media about how he hopes to work with Boris Johnson’s current roadmap for allowing UK residents to travel, however, it’s unclear whether or not Greece and Brussels will break from their current restrictions that would prevent this sort of travel from occurring. 

Non-essential travel into most European countries has been widely prohibited to curb the spread of Covid-19. Of the European Union’s 27-member states, all leaders agreed that these restrictions must remain in place for the time being. 

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Theoharis, however, recently confirmed that Anglo-Greek technical teams were working on how to create a system in which mass travel could resume properly if facilitated correctly. 

“We’ll try to dovetail with the plan that has been announced in the UK. May 17th has been a set date and we certainly want to be ready by then. The roadmap was a very, very good move by the UK government … planning is a prerequisite for the travel industry.”

The EU’s head of state and government are projected to discuss vaccination rollouts this week, however, they don’t believe that these discussions mean travel should resume anytime soon. The number one priority is getting all citizens vaccinated and bringing this pandemic to a hopeful end. Greece and a few other member states have been in talks to separate themselves from the EU’s current travel restrictions in order to stimulate their economies more. 

Theoharis claims that his government would be pushing for a more organized agreement regarding vaccine passports at the EU level to allow travel to resume. France and Germany have been very vocal over their hesitation to implement vaccination passports for travel mainly because not everyone is vaccinated, and there’s not enough information about how the virus can be transmitted among vaccinated and unvaccinated groups of people. 

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“All we are saying is that 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. We have to move fast. It’s already been decided that this certificate will be created on a Pan-European basis even if it is just for health reasons,” he explained. 

Theoharis went on to explain that Greece “wants to finish what we started and finish it quickly and briskly and at the same time aim high for the travel and tourism industry. There are a number of misconceptions around the certificate, the first being that it would be discriminatory. It’s not, because it’s just an alternative to negative testing.”

“The idea that it breaches privacy laws is also wrong because, if you prefer, you can travel as if you are not vaccinated and always get tested. A certificate simply allows somebody to travel without needing to test all the time. In that sense it’s hassle- free and cost-efficient. And on the health front there is greater probability a vaccinated person has fewer chances of spreading the disease than someone who is negative at some point in time.”

It’s unclear when Greece would begin implementing these new travel policies, if at all, because as mentioned before, the number one priority among all EU government bodies is getting everyone vaccinated and ending the pandemic once and for all. 

Greece Flag

Greece Pledges To Rehouse Migrants Made Homeless By Devastating Fires

After massive fires took out Europe’s biggest refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, the country pledged that they would rehouse any and all migrants that were made homeless within days. Notis Mitarachi is Greece’s migration minister, and recently spoke with local media outlets about their efforts to resettle more than 12,500 men, women, and children. He claimed that the Covid-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult to make this happen, however, it’s also the reason there’s such an urgency to get these individuals in a safe space, away from large crowds. 

“It’ll take a few days but all the affected people will be moved into this temporary location. We hope to have 5,000 beds ready by the end of the day.” 

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The “temporary location” that Mitarachi was referring to is a large open plot of land that the military has been tirelessly working on building for these homeless migrants. Before anyone enters this temporary “mini community” they must be tested for Covid-19 as well. The community is set up on a former outdoor firing range, one of the largest plots of land they could find on such short notice. 

Last Tuesday, a series of fires completely obliterated a famously overcrowded migrant camp in Lesbos. Thousands of people were forced to flee into the surrounding countryside and fend for themselves until they could find some sort of safety. Many described making makeshift shelters alongside a long stretch of road so that they could remain in groups. This road led to Mytilene, the island’s port capital, that’s heavily policed. 

Beyond the sides of roads, other individuals have sought out shelter in churches, parking lots, and even cemeteries. Aid groups and authorities began bringing water and food to help these individuals, however, finding all of them after fleeing has proven to be difficult, as many don’t have the resources to make a phone call or receive help. Both the refugees and locals are also not too thrilled at the idea of relocating. 

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Both groups of individuals are fearful of contracting Covid-19, and even though authorities are testing individuals before they enter the temporary camp, there’s still so much uncertainty regarding these refugee’s futures. Prior to the fires in Moria, 35 residents were diagnosed with the virus, leading experts to believe case numbers could very much be over 200 at this point. 

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prime minister of Greece, recently spoke with the media as well, and claimed that the combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and migration fire crisis has been an “explosive mix,” but also is aware that the fires that occurred in Moria could’ve been avoided if more refugee camps were made available. 

“I want to believe that this tragedy is a warning bell for all. I’ve requested that the EU be involved in the management of this new center wherever it is. I hope to see the flag of Greece and Europe at it.” 

Mitsotakis explained that human rights groups have been working tirelessly to improve conditions in these facilities, as they’ve long been underrun and dangerous. As of right now military authorities have been working with local government officials to continue to rehouse as many refugees as they can.

Santorini Greece

Greece Plans On Reopening For Tourists On July 1st, Says Prime Minister

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many tourism industries throughout the world are struggling to figure out when they’ll be able to return to a sense of normalcy. Different countries and cultural destinations have set up various virtual tours and experiences for those who are quarantined and fighting their wanderlust urges everyday, while others have already begun planning for their big reopening post-pandemic, whenever that may be. 

Greece, to be more specific, is optimistically hoping that they’ll be able to reopen their country’s doors to tourists by the beginning of July, just with some major changes. Lockdown policies in general have begun to lift in Europe, since they’ve been issuing stay-at-home orders for much longer than we have here in the US, however, most of the continent still needs to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. 

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According to Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the country will be reopening to tourists on July 1st with some major adjustments made to protect everyone from possible infection. For example, visitors of the country can expect to still be able to sightsee and go to all the white-sandy beaches that Greece is famous for, however, they likely won’t be able to participate in any sort of nightlife activities, which also makes up a majority of the revenue for Greece’s tourism industry. 

“The tourism experience this summer may be slightly different from what you’ve had in previous years. Maybe no bars may be open, or no tight crowds, but you can still get a fantastic experience in Greece — provided that the global epidemic is on a downward path,” Mitsotakis said in a recent interview

According to Johns Hopkins University, which has been recording data relating to the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning of the year, Greece has greatly been able to contain the spread of Covid-19 infections and have only experienced 147 coronavirus-related deaths. The rates of infection have remained so low that children are even expected to return to school next week to finish off their year. 

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Hotels within the city are also projecting to reopen in the beginning of June. If everything goes as planned, Prime Minister Mitsotakis intends for Greece to focus its attention on bringing back smaller tourism activities first and bringing in a higher end luxury customer market. The goal is to have these guests stay in boutique hotels while they embark on intimate excursions such as yachting and agrotourism. 

This way, these higher-end customers can likely spend more money and help Greece’s tourism market recover quicker. As of right now, every international traveler who arrives in Greece must land in Athens and go through a health screening. This screening involves a test for Covid-19 that has rapid results and Mitsotakis is hoping they can expand this program to other countries within Europe to make intercontinental travel easier.

In a recent video conference Mitsotakis also proposed that the country creates “safe corridors” for citizens from countries that have a stable coronavirus response, like Greece itself, so that all parties involved feel more comfortable that they won’t be infected; he’s already made calls to Austria, Denmark, Israel, and Singapore to do so. 

While other countries in Europe are also starting to lift their quarantine policies, only time will tell when we’ll all be able to travel confidently and safely again. For now, it’s important that we continue to listen to our healthcare providers and remain indoors.

Brazil

Where to Visit in 2020

Somehow we have made it not only to the end of another year but also to the end of another decade and many of us are starting to think of ways we can make our lives better in 2020.

If “travel more” is on your list of New Year’s resolutions then look no further as we have put together a list of some of the best places to visit during the next year.

Cape Town, South Africa

Located on the shores of Table Bay, Cape Town is a must for anyone wishing to visit an area that fully embraces everything that Africa believes in.

With a strong history – including Robben Island which is a short boat trip away and where former president Nelson Mandela was kept prisoner – as well as some fascinating culture, nature and of course, the amazing music and festivals.

However if shopping is more your thing there are plenty of markets around including at the Old Biscuit Mill and Green Market Square, where you can taste some of the local cuisine as well as pick up some souvenirs to remind you of your experience.

Cape Town also houses some of the funkiest food and accommodation venues with Long Street home to many bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels.

And if beaches are more your thing head towards one of their stunning beaches and take part in some water sports including surfing or even shark cage diving if you are really adventurous.

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Any of the Greek Islands

One of the most sought after locations of 2020 will be any of the 6,000 Greek islands, including the picturesque Santorini. The village of Oia is famous for its blue and white architecture which will be even more accessible during 2020 thanks to the local council’s plans to build more roads and parking.

Or why not book a boat tour and head out for a day on the Aegean sea, stopping at beaches along the way – such as Akrotiri and its famous red beach – and eat a magical dinner on board as the sun sets? We could think of worse ways to end the day.

If you are after a bit more of the party scene, book a two hour ferry and head across to Mykonos. Known around the world for its summer long party, dance clubs line the beaches – such as Paradise and Super Paradise – attracting world famous DJs to keep you partying all night.

Armação dos Búzios, Brazil

Thanks to a change in restrictions in June 2019, Americans no longer need a visa when heading to Brazil and we strongly recommend visiting the stunning beach resort of Armação dos Búzios.

Located to the east of Rio de Janeiro, this ‘higher end’ vacation spot is perfect for those looking for water sports and nightlife adventures.

If parades are more your thing you should head south west to Rio de Janeiro in February and witness one of the most exciting carnivals in the world. Full of amazing music, dancing and a host of other activities, the Rio carnival is definitely one not to be missed. And while you are there you should also take a look at the spectacular Sugarloaf Mountain.

Slovenia

Part of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia is fast becoming the “go to” place for adrenaline junkies thanks to its reputation for providing some record-breaking activities. Head to Planica and have a ride on the steepest declining zipline in the world, or if bungee jumping is more your thing why not visit Bridge Solkan and jump off the longest train bridge built of stone blocks? And for those of you who prefer water sports such as kayaking or rafting, Soča has crystal clear waters perfect for a day of water-based fun.

However, if you prefer a more relaxed break head towards one of the many spa resorts dotted around the country. As an area renowned for its healing mineral water, visitors flock to the region each year making Slovenia a must visit place for 2020.

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British Columbia, Canada

Just across the border in Canada you will find many areas of beauty however British Columbia has something for everyone.

With award winning wine regions, remote islands and vibrant cities – including Vancouver – there are also many outdoor activities to be found in this beautiful part of Canada, including some world class ski resorts.

However we strongly recommend visiting the capital. Located on Vancouver Island, Victoria is fast becoming a tourist attraction thanks to its stunning Victorian architecture and bright buildings as well as places such as Fisherman’s Wharf, the Inner Harbor, Hatley Castle and Butchart Gardens.

There are so many more places that you should visit around the world and these are just a few suggestions to get you started. As soon as you start exploring and seeing how beautiful our world is, you will not want to stop.

Plastic Cup

3,000-Year-Old Cup Proves Humans Haven’t Been Green For A Long Time

The Minoans are historically known as one of the original European civilizations; beyond that, they’re also known as one of the most innovative and advanced for their time. The Minoans were around between 1700 and 1600 BC on the island of Crete in Greece. Archaeologists have always credited the Minoans for their advancements in technology, and now, they discovered a 3,600 year old cup that they believe to have been the first evidence of disposable utensil technology. The cup was discovered to be fully intact, and through further inspection, archaeologists believe it was meant to be thrown out after one use. Throughout the past few years, thousands of these disposable cups have been discovered throughout the island. Experts believe they were most likely used to hold wine, based on the aging and shape. Now, the most recent discovery will be on display at the British Museum in London as the first evidence of disposable dishware. 

“People may be very surprised to know that disposable, single-use cups are not the invention of our modern consumerist society, but in fact can be traced back thousands of years. Three and a half thousand years ago, the Minoans were using them for a very similar reason to us today: to serve drinks at parties. The only difference is the material. People were getting together in large groups and much like today, nobody wants to do the washing-up,” Julia Farley, a curator at the British Museum.

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Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attends “Cooking Like Minoans”

Farley went on to explain that the specific museum display that the cup will be a part of is titled “Rubbish And Us.” The exhibit plans to show multiple examples of single-use products from the past into today. The items from the past are meant to show the unexpected strength and endurance the original materials that disposable products were made with have. One of the other most notable items that is set to be on display is a waxed paper cup, that originally was made for serving hot beverages on flights, from the 1990’s.

A major aspect of this display is also to raise awareness over how, even in 1700 BC, these materials were so tough to break down, that they just sit in the Earth and further contribute to pollution. Single-use products in general, but plastic especially, are one of the leading causes of litter and pollution on land and in our oceans today. With this new evidence, it’s clear that this has also been an issue since the dawn of modern civilization.

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“With ceramics being a higher status material to us now, it seems strange to throw them away after just one use. But like plastic today, clay was readily available, cheap to acquire, easy to mold. But also like plastic, clay stays in the ground for many, many years,” Farley stated.

Currently, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is almost two times the size of Texas when combined, more than 400 million pieces of plastic were recently discovered on a remote group of islands off the coast of India, and we ingest thousands of microplastic particles every day when we use these single use products. These issues only scratch the surface when it comes to damage induced by litter that plagues our natural world and remains stagnant and intact for years and years.

The exhibit is meant to be completely educational, as it is intriguing. The fact that scientists have discovered that even 3,000 years ago humans wanted an easy solution to their dinnerware needs is truly an amazing discovery, and it gives us a greater insight into just how advanced humanity was at the time. The “Rubbish And Us” exhibit at the museum will be opening on December 19th, and will be displayed until February 23rd. So if you’re in the London area and want to learn more about the initial use of disposables in modern society, be sure to go check it out!