With ties between the countries tightening and the COVID-19 pandemic waning, Chinese tourists are heading to Greece again and China hopes that Greeks will visit China, where COVID health measures were eased.
China Global Television Network (CGTN) said at the top of the list for Chinese coming to Greece is its most popular island, Santorini, that has become so overrun in the summer that cruise ships are limited.
The Acropolis is another feature that Chinese most want to see and, like on Santorini, take photos, the site an historic landmark 227 years older than the Great Wall of China, the countries having ancient cultures.
In China, the site said, Lan Xiaocheng’s travel agency has been preparing for this moment since the COVID pandemic struck in China and brought devastation around the world, along with lockdowns stopping travel.
After three years of closures, China is fully reopening its borders by allowing travel agencies to provide outbound group tours to 60 countries with Greece high up as a favorite and Greeks heading for China, the report said.
“So far we have only received a few groups and they are mainly business people, participating in exhibitions and academic exchanges, but now we are promoting tourist trips. We are offering wedding tours, summer camps, academic exchanges, and site touring,” said Xiaocheng, head of Athens Silk Road International Travel Agency.
Easing strict health measures, China now has allowed travel agencies to provide outbound group tours and Greece, which rebounded big in 2022, is hoping for a record-breaking year, especially in the summer.
In December 20022 the first direct flight from Shanghai landed in Athens, with Air China later adding flights from Beijing. Before the lockdown, around 200,000 Chinese tourists visited Greece, but the Ministry of Tourism expects that number to grow markedly, the report said.
‘The numbers show how great the loss was for not having our friends from China or other countries that had restrictions,” said Greece’s Vice-Minister of Tourism, Sofia Zacharaki. “As we now move into the era of post-pandemic travel, we do feel that the average spending will be increasing even more,” she said.
Zacharaki added: “In the past we’ve seen that the average spending from our friends was even double (that of) European travelers to Greece,” with wealthy Chinese especially opening their wallets.
Three years ago the majority of visas issued to both Greek and Chinese travelers wanting to visit each other’s countries were business or academic but that looks to be changing, the site said.
Xiaocheng, told CGTN: “Greeks are mostly interested in cultural exchanges when visiting, like food, theater, and architecture. But It’s going to take time for Greek tourists to visit China, to know what happened and make sure it’s safe. But this year there is a better plan for tourists traveling from China to Greece, but Greece to China too. There are more direct flights between the two countries from many air carriers.”