Greece to restart tourism June 15, international flights July 1

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addresses the Greek nation on State TV in Athens, May 20, 2020. (AP Photo)
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Updated 20 May 2020

Greece to restart tourism June 15, international flights July 1

  • Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis: We will win the economy war just as we won the health battle
  • Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis said a list of nations resuming flights to Greece would be announced by the end of May

ATHENS: Greece will restart its tourism season on June 15 in a key boost to the economy after the virus lockdown, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Wednesday, adding that international flights would resume on July 1.
“The tourism period begins June 15, when seasonal hotels can reopen, and direct international flights to our tourist destinations will gradually begin July 1,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address.
With Greece suffering fewer than 170 COVID-19 deaths over two months into the pandemic, Mitsotakis said the country’s prompt response to the virus would be a “passport of safety, credibility and health” to attract visitors.
“We will win the economy war just as we won the health battle,” Mitsotakis said.
Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis said a list of nations resuming flights to Greece would be announced by the end of May, noting that Athens would focus on reviving a travel front “from the Balkans to the Baltic.”
Bulgarians and northern Europeans including Germans will be among the first visitors, the minister said, in addition to Israelis and Cypriots.
Incoming travelers will not be required to undergo virus testing or quarantine, but sample tests will be carried out in tourist areas, the minister said.
Theocharis added that 600 beds would be specifically set aside for coronavirus care on Greek islands.
The country, which is still recovering from a decade-long debt crisis, badly needs tourism income that directly and indirectly accounts for over a fifth of its economy.
According to the tourism ministry, Greece last year had 33 million visitors and tourism revenue of 19 billion euros ($21 billion).
To increase Greece’s appeal, tax on all transport will be reduced to 13 percent from the current 24 percent for the coming five months, the prime minister said.
The Greek finance ministry earlier on Wednesday noted that without support measures for businesses, the country could face an economic contraction of up to 13 percent this year.


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 12 July 2020

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.