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Despite Fires, Alcohol Poisonings, Greek Officials Say Country Safe for Tourists

August 13, 2018

While July 23 wildfires that killed 94 people haven’t deterred tourists, Greece’s Ministry of Tourism is sending out the word that the country is safe for travel, although some reports emerged that British tourists were poisoned with methanol mixed into their drinks on the notorious island of Zakynthos, a common practice in Greek bars.

“Travel within the country is relaxed, safe and reasonably priced,” the Ministry of Tourism told the Chinese news agency Xinhua, with the numbers of visitors from China soaring and expected to jump significantly for years.

This year is expected to set another record number with 32 million foreign visitors but it’s uncertain how much they are spending.

Arrivals from China increased by 35 percent in 2017 and are expected to increase by 50 percent in 2018, according to Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura.

The 150,000 Chinese tourists visiting Greece, as well as all visitors from across the world, should feel safe like home, officials stressed.

“Santorini, and generally Greece, is a very safe destination. There is a civil protection plan for every area and island of the country that is followed in cases of emergency or natural disasters and there is also one for our island,” the Mayor of Santorini, Nikolaos Zorzos, told Xinhua although there was no evacuation or disaster plan in place on July 23 when the wildfires hit seaside villages north of the country’s Capital.

Zorzos insisted that all businesses on the island have taken safety precautions. “They do not get a working license if they do not comply with the law. Every company has a safety inspector that is responsible for keeping everybody safe,” he added, although it wasn’t sure if company inspectors are checked by the island’s inspectors.

Despite his island having a reputation for hooliganism and where an American tourist was beaten to death last year, Zakynthos Mayor Pavlos Kolokotsas said tourists are safe and protected, without mentioning the alcohol poisoning incident.

“Zakynthians are hospitable and friendly. Moreover, the Municipality of Zakynthos, the local Police Force, the Port Authorities and the Region of Ionian Islands are cooperating for this purpose and all the necessary measures are adopted in order to protect our tourists,” he said.

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