Κυριακή 24 Ιανουαρίου 2021

Prime Minister: “Brand Greece” must be refreshed this year


Mitsotakis believes that the tourism sector is not the only one that will benefit from refocusing on all Greece has to offer

 Greek PM Mitsotakis believes that “Brand Greece” must be refreshed once again this year, after the worst of the pandemic is over, letting the world know once again that it is ready to “hit play again” as the nation not only ramps up for another tourist season but creates an economic climate for new development and investment as well, according to greekreporter.com.

He believes that the tourism sector is not the only one that will benefit from refocusing on all Greece has to offer — now that there is a new economic outlook, he hopes to attract even more business development than he has in the recent past and to entice more Greeks abroad to come back to the land of their birth to work and live.

“Sunny ambitions”

After years in what the magazine Monocle called “years in the geopolitical wilderness” Prime Minister Mitsotakis is “hitting play on his nation’s sunny ambitions” in a bid to remind the world what “Brand Greece” means — and to expand that meaning.

The story recounted that after winning the election in July of 2019, Mitsotakis immediately started to create a more business-friendly environment in the country, after years of austerity and economic difficulty. However, just as the economic reality was markedly improving in the country, the pandemic broke out and the Greek leader was faced with helping his nation navigate the uncharted waters of a global health crisis.

The nation is strongly inviting “Digital Nomads,” those who can work anywhere in the world via computer, to settle in Greece and has also instituted a 7% income tax rate for retirees — from anywhere in the world — to come and live in the country.

“Mitsotakis has hit play on a new image and role for Greece that is seeing the return of a highly talented diaspora, a rapid rise in foreign direct investment, and tax incentives given to encourage an increasingly vibrant start-up scene” the writers say.

This indicates  the Prime Minister’s “renewed determination for Greece to play a pivotal diplomatic, military and economic role in the Eastern Mediterranean, where relations with Turkey are tense because of clashing claims over maritime borders and ‘exclusive economic zones.”

The Monocle story quotes Mitsotakis as pointing out: “For a country that came out of ten years of economic hardship with a healthcare system that had come under a lot of strain, we’ve done remarkably well. I’m a big believer in trust. And trust between people and the political elite had been shattered during the (financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath).

“We’re rebuilding this trust, step by step,” he explains. “There’s a general feeling that Greece has turned the corner, a new sense of national confidence – that’s very much exhibited in our diaspora.

“Country moving in the right direction”

“These are highly talented people who left the country during the crisis. The reason they’re returning – or contemplating returning – isn’t just to do with the fact that they’re offered more professional opportunities; it also has to do with a general sense that the country is moving in the right direction.”

The move adroitly taps into the current professional realities of many across the world due to Covid-19. Those who once worked in cubicles or desks in sprawling offices have now been working from home for the better part of the last year.

For some, this shift to remote work has proven to be welcome, improving their professional and personal lives. Others are starving for exploration and adventure because of Covid-19 restrictions, and see the change as the ideal opportunity to work and travel once it’s safe.

Large corporations around the globe have found worker productivity and satisfaction to be increased now that many have the freedom to work wherever their employees want, and following their own schedules.

Tech giants moving into Greece

Some firms, like Google, have even suggested that they would continue this work-from-home model for the majority of their staff even after the pandemic is long over.

The country has started by reducing taxes by 50% for those who decide to make Greece their home base. Furthermore, Greece has promised significant tax benefits to court Greeks living abroad, lost to the brain drain during the financial crisis, to return to the country.

This model has proven to be rather effective, bringing in a number of highly-qualified, creative workers already working remotely to Greece, drawn to the country’s vibrant culture and stunning natural landscapes.

Tech and pharmaceutical giants, such as Microsoft and Pfizer, have even commenced major operations in the country, which was once mired in an immense economic recession.

Ginger – banana energy smoothie

 By: Λάμπρος Βακιάρος | | Liqueurs-Smoothies, Mediterranean Cooking

Creamy and sweet, this smoothie is the perfect, on-the-go energizing drink. It’s loaded with nutrients and is beyond delicious. Add your favorite superfood if you wish.

Serves: 2 Prep. time: 15′ Ready in: 15′

2 medium ripe bananas
1 small red apple
1 small piece fresh ginger, grated
1 cup fresh orange juice
½ cup almond milk

Step 1
Peel fruit and cut in pieces.

Step 2
Whizz all ingredients with some ice in your blender until smooth.

Step 3
Serve with extra ice if you wish.

UNWTO Global Tourism Crisis Commitee meets again to explore safe travel in age of vaccines


The United for Travel campaign will help us achieve this, providing a clear and strong message that safe tourism is now possible


The Global Tourism Crisis Committee has met for the first time in 2021. Organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the cross-sector body met in Madrid during the 113th session of the UNWTO Executive Council to advance solid plans to restart tourism. The meeting focused on the integration of vaccines into a harmonized approach to safe travel and launching a coordinated effort to boost confidence in the sector.

With countries around the world now rolling out vaccines against the COVID-19 virus, the Committee noted that this opens a critical window in the fight against the pandemic and promotes the safe resumption of international travel. Members highlighted the importance of stepping up coordination, within the framework of the International Health Regulations, of vaccination certificates to ensure the implementation of common, harmonized digital-related travel principles, protocols, and documents. This would be in line with the work being carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has reported at potential applications of digital technology to enable safe international travel and facilitate arrivals and departures.

 Harmonized plans and protocols the priority

The Committee’s own Technical Group, chaired by Greece, alongside a dedicated inter-agency group drawing on diverse parts of the United Nations system and international organizations, are working to ensure measures are implemented, including by governments, to foster their application at every level of tourism. The Technical Group Chairman Harry Theocharis provided his latest update, showing how concrete steps have been taken to guarantee a harmonized plan of action.

UNWTO Secretary-General Pololikashvili said: “The rollout of vaccines is a step in the right direction, but the restart of tourism cannot wait. Vaccines must be part of a wider, coordinated approach that includes certificates and passes for safe cross-border travel. In the longer-term, we also need to restore confidence in tourism. The United for Travel campaign will help us achieve this, providing a clear and strong message that safe tourism is now possible.” 

Testing for safe and seamless travel

Alongside the Technical Group’s work, the Committee called for support of the OECD’s own initiative aimed at developing a harmonized system of border controls. This would be developed in coordination with UNWTO as well as with WHO and, representing the civil aviation and the maritime sectors respectively, ICAO and the IMO.

The Crisis Committee members also called for firm actions to Support the standardization, digitalization, and interoperability of testing protocols and certification systems. Members agreed that these should be based on commonly agreed evidence and risk-assessment indicators for origin and destination country or territory. The implementation of the CART Take-Off Guidance, developed by ICAO, was identified as an effective tool for advancing the harmonization of testing protocols and accelerating the establishment of Public Health Corridors.

 The committee draws on top expertise and leadership

Since the start of the crisis, UNWTO has convened the Committee to bring together governments, public and private sector leaders, and international organizations to form a united and efficient response. Addressing this latest meeting were Margaritis Schinas, Vice President of the European Commission, OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría, and both tourism ministers from UNWTO’s Member States and leading representatives of civil aviation and cruise tourism sectors. Joining them and ensuring the United Nations speaks with one voice were Fang Liu, Secretary-General, and Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of IMO.

The Global Tourism Crisis Committee met against the backdrop of the 113th session of the UNWTO Executive Council, also being held in Madrid as a hybrid event. The Council brings together more than 150 in-person participants alongside participants representing governments and destinations of every global region, to advance UNWTO’s Programme of Work and to vote for the Organization’s Secretary-General for 2022-2025.

Crisis Committee: Recommendations and Next Steps

Meeting on the occasion of the 8th Global Tourism Crisis Committee, held in Madrid, on 18 January 2021 and within the context of the 113th session of the UNWTO Executive Council, the members of the Committee recalled:

  • That the vaccination opens a critical window of opportunity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and promote the safe reassuming of international travel alongside other risk mitigation tools such COVID-19 testing.
  • That according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General report to the WHO Executive Council on ‘Strengthening preparedness for health emergencies: implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005); Interim progress report of the Review Committee on the Functioning of the International Health Regulations (2005) during the  COVID-19 Response’ the Committee “is looking into the possible applications of digital technology to enable safe international travel, including for documentation at points of entry (arriving and departing travelers), travel history, testing, and contact tracing, and possibly vaccination requirements.1
  • The urgency of accelerating the coordination of international cross-border travel principles and protocols to ensure a safe and seamless restart of tourism in view of the resurge of cases and the continued lack of common principles and mechanisms for testing protocols related to travel. 

    The Committee called for:

  • Stepping up the coordination, within the framework of the International Health Regulations2, of vaccination certificates to ensure timely monitoring, definition, and implementation of common, harmonized digital-related travel principles, protocols, and documents.
  • Support the standardization, digitalization, and interoperability of testing protocols and certification systems, based on commonly agreed evidence and risk-assessment indicators for origin and destination country/territory.
  • Support of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s initiative for the development and coordination of a harmonised system in all countries to open borders safely in coordination with World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • The implementation of the ICAO CART Take-off Guidance, including the Manual on Testing and Cross-border Risk Management Measures3 and establishing Public Health Corridors (PHCs), in order to advance the harmonization of testing protocols requirements.
  • Countries to ensure that measures affecting international traffic are risk-based, evidence-based, coherent, proportionate and time limited. (source: Tornos)

Πέμπτη 14 Ιανουαρίου 2021

ECDC Covid-19 – Ionian, Aegean and Epirus the only low-risk regions in the EU

 Greece has a very good showing overall as it is in the yellow 

 The regions of the Ionian and Aegean islands, as well as Epirus, are the only areas in Europe in the ‘green zone’ in terms of Covid-19 exposure and performance, according to data released by European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control for the 14 days preceded by January 14th.

The map image of Greece regarding the spread of the coronavirus shows an improved state, compared to the other countries of the European Union.


At a time when most of the EU countries are in the “red zones” (a high-risk category that arises if the cases of the last 14 days are 50 or more per 100,000 inhabitants in combination with 4% positive tests or if the cases are more than 150 per 100,000 inhabitants), Greece is substantially in the “yellow”, in the recording of the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the last 14 days, which in combination with the percentage of positive tests, reflects both the rate of spread of the disease and its penetration dynamics in the community.


As can be seen in the map below, the situation is much better (“green”) in Epirus, Ionian islands, and Aegean islands.

At the same time, while most of the countries of the Union are in the “red”, the situation in our country has improved in the index of positivity (cases/number of tests), which has fallen below 4%, according to the measurements announced today Fifth by the European agency and relate to last week.


Πέμπτη 26 Νοεμβρίου 2020

Greece’s largest and most populous island, Crete .. from space


Greece’s largest and most populous island, Crete, is featured in this image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission.

The two identical Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites carry radar instruments, which can see through clouds and rain, and in the dark, to image Earth’s surface below. The sea surface reflects the radar signal away from the satellite, making water appear dark in the image, while cities on the island are visible in white owing to the strong reflection of the radar signal.

Crete extends for approximately 260 km from west to east, and is approximately 60 km across at its widest point. Crete is known for its rugged terrain and is dominated by a high mountain range crossing from west to east. 

This includes the Lefká Ori, or ‘White Mountains’ in the west, Mount Ida, Crete’s highest mountain, visible in the centre of the island, and the Díkti Mountains in the east. Crete’s capital and largest city of the island, Heraklion, is located along the northern coastline.

Several other smaller islands are dotted around the image, including Gavdos, Chrisi and Dia.

Read more ESA

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Crete 3rd best global destination in TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award 2020


The popular online travel/tourism platform released its 2020 Travelers’ Choice Awards and Crete featured in 3rd spot. Only London and Paris bested the Greek island in popularity.

 As the piece notes on Crete, it is the birthplace of both the king of the Olympian gods and of modern European civilization, dubbing it a Mediterranean jewel. 

It’s rich with archaeological and mythological history that’s reflected in its ancient ruins and cultural attractions. 

Soak up the charming atmosphere of Chania Town’s Old Venetian Harbor or the fortresses and monasteries of Rethymnon. 

The awesome Minoan ruins of Malia date to 1900 BC and majestic Mt. Ida is said to be home to the cave where Zeus was born.