ATHENS – Greece’s tightening relations with China and seeking investors there is also seeing interest from Chinese tourists, and Greek tourism officials are offering a tailor-made program to meet their needs.
“We are creating a comprehensive tourism product that will move all Chinese visitors,” Dimitris Fragakis, Secretary-General of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), told China’s state news agency Xinhua in an interview.
China is an important market for Greece and the GNTO is cooperating with airlines, tour operators and media to promote Greek tourism, he said, with Greek cultural exhibits and foods drawing keen interest in China.
Greece is developing a special mixture of experiences for Chinese tourists and culture remains a pillar in this strategy, he said, adding that the countries have renowned ancient histories that contributed greatly to civilization.
More direct flights connecting Athens to Beijing and Shanghai are also scheduled to facilitate their travel, he said. “We are definitely very well-prepared to host them so that they can enjoy our country and come back,” he said.
China’s wealthy have shown themselves a big market for luxury goods shopping in Greece as well as on islands, particularly Santorini where there were mass weddings of Chinese couples, where some restaurant menus were translated into Mandarin, shops displayed Chinese flags and some hotel workers learning to speak Mandarin to communicate with them.are being festooned with Chinese flags and hotel employees, are learning Mandarin.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic – which began in China – struck the world in 2020 and essentially shut down international travel, Greece was seeing about 200,000 Chinese visitors annually.
“In the past, we have seen that average spending from our friends from China was even double (that of) European travelers to Greece,” then- Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki earlier in 2023, said to The Voice of America.