ATHENS – After China opened to tourists even while the COVID-19 pandemic re-surged there, Greece is welcoming the return of Chinese tourists who must show proof they aren’t infected.
Greece in 2022 essentially lifted health restrictions to get tourists to come, which worked, although the Coronavirus was still making people ill, putting them in hospitals and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) on ventilators and killing.
The world has more quickly tried to move on because of the economic consequences wrought by COVID, but the number of cases in China led Greece to put conditions on Chinese arrivals.
But Greek restaurant owners, who enjoyed a big 2022 – especially in the summer – said they aren’t anxious about receiving Chinese tourists, and indeed can’t wait to embrace them.
In a feature, the Chinese state-run English language news channel CGTN said Greek restaurateurs weren’t happy about the restrictions on Chinese tourists being singled out because of how many cases there were in China.
But the eateries are still hopeful that enough Chinese will come, especially during the off-season as Greece has reached out with a campaign to keep people coming year-round, even in the winter.
“I’m not afraid at all,” restaurant owner Georgios Vaitsoglou tells CGTN Europe. “I have many Chinese clients and I know that they will respect us and take all precautions so they can be safe and make sure that we will be safe. The only thing I can say is ‘I can’t wait to see them,” he told the station.
The new measures introduced by Greece’s ministry of health include the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to departure shown by travelers from China and the use of high-protection masks at all Greek airports, the report also noted.
Additional measures include sewage collection from airports with international flights and aircraft arriving from China in a 180-degree turn by Greek officials who earlier said there wouldn’t be restrictions.
In Greece, the restaurant owners said they’ve had enough experience dealing with the pandemic and health measures and weren’t afraid of accepting customers coming from China for now.
“I’m not concerned at all,” said Spiros Bairaktaris. “I’m sure that before they leave China, they’ll be fully vaccinated and take all safety measures. Yes, we have to be careful, but not only about air travelers from China, but everywhere. I’m looking forward to Chinese people coming to Greece,” he added.
Another taverna owner said, “The virus is something of the past and I’m not worried at all. It has become part of our everyday life, we have taken all measures, from tests and vaccinations, so I don’t think that Chinese tourists are the problem. Quite the contrary, the real problem is inflation, that’s what we’re worried about.”