Athens received more welcome news on Tuesday, as the European Commission approved – under EU State aid rules – the funneling of 800 million euros towards tourism-related businesses in the country affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a later statement, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the aid will be directed to the entire gamut of businesses in the tourism and holiday sector, including travel agencies, camping grounds and even tour coach operators, “but primarily for the support of SMEs”, as he said.

In commenting on the decision Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager stressed that “…This €800 million Greek scheme will facilitate access to liquidity for companies active in the tourism sector. They have been hit hard by the pandemic and this scheme will help ensure the continuity of their economic activity in these difficult times. We continue to work in close cooperation with Member States to find workable solutions to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, in line with EU rules”.

Back in Athens, Mitsotakis also presented to tourism sector representatives a European Digital Covid-19 Certificate in his name, hours after the initiative proposed by his government was finalized as a more-or-less Union-wide reality.

“Greece is one of seven countries that are in the first wave of accession to the (Covid-19 vaccination certificate) digital platform, which means that as of today Greek citizens will be able to issue their European Digital Certificate. We’ve of course ensured the inter-operability with these countries … so that it is shared with the greatest of east at entry points, allow us to accept visitors to our countries without any additional restrictions,” Mitsotakis said.

Business of all sizes operating lodgings will be supported with a sum equaling 5 percent of their 2019 turnover; 2.5 percent for all other types of tourism-related businesses – and with a maximum outlay of 400,000 euros per tax code. The financial support is tax-free and protected from creditors. Franchise outlets are eligible as well.

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