Published on : Thursday, June 4, 2020
In 2018, when Thomas Bareiss was appointed as the deputy minister at the Department of the Economy and Energy and Germany’s commissioner for tourism, most certainly he didn’t expect it to be so taxing. As the point man of tourism for the federal government, he coordinates with his opposite numbers across Europe and elsewhere to make sure his country this summer can welcome visitors from other countries safely. At the same time, those tens of millions of Germans who normally travel across the borders can do so this year with minimum risk.
Normally, a good portion of the German summer exodus over 4 million goes to Greece. Drawing as many as possible in 2020 has been the main priority for the Greek government. To quote Bareiss, “Greece is doing a great job” in taking precautionary measures for the tourist season, he says, and is also “one of the main contestants in the European Union in an initiation to reopen borders with common standards.
“We want summer travel within the EU, especially to these very well-known destinations such as those in Greece, to be made possible,” Bareiss says. “Holidays this year will be different – there will be a lot more rules to follow. But I think holidays in Greece will be possible – it has dealt very effectively with the virus, it is a safe country, like Germany. I am on the phone frequently with Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis, we try to find common standards on both sides so that travelers can move safely between our two countries.”
The top tourism official of Germany provides the following account of the country’s wider border reopening plans: “We still have a worldwide travel warning until June 15. We want to lift those restrictions for EU and Schengen countries, as well as the UK, after that date; but for some regions within Europe where the virus is still not under control, or where there are not common safety standards – in airports, train stations hotels, restaurants – they may be extended beyond the 15th. We must work very closely within the EU on this.”