Increasing inbound tourism from China is a ministry priority, as is introducing direct air links between destinations in the two countries, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said during a recent meeting with a delegation from the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian. The delegation was in Athens last week on the initiative of the Hellenic Trade Council.
Minister Kountoura welcomed the Director General of the Fujian Foreign Affairs Office, Wang Tianming, as well as a business representatives, to the Greek ministry, where they discussed boosting tourism ties as well as the possibility of launching a direct flight from Xiamen to the Greek capital. If a Xiamen-Athens route is established, the Greek capital will be the airline’s second European destination after Paris.
Kountoura referred to the 70 percent increase in the number of Chinese nationals visiting Greece over the last three years, underlining the importance for Greece to further cooperate with China. In this direction, the minister inaugurated earlier this year the permanent Greek stand at the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, where Greek producers can exhibit their products over the next 10 years.
On his part, Wang said he would support efforts for the introduction of direct air links between the two countries, adding that Xiamen Airlines had informed him that they were considering – in collaboration with Xiamen C&D Inc – adding Athens as their second European destination in 2020.
Air China currently offers direct weekly flights to Athens from Beijing and efforts are being made to launch direct links connecting Shanghai with Athens.
On a final note, he added that Xiamen, the capital of the Fujian province and a sister city with Greece’s Marathonas, hosts China’s largest marathon race and is a historic center along the Maritime Silk Road.
Wang invited Minister Kountoura to the Strait Travel Fair within the China (Xiamen) International Leisure Tourism Expo, where in 2020 Greece will be the honored country.