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Greece Aims to Increase Number of Visiting Chinese Travelers by 2020

Santorini, Greece, is one of the most popular wedding spots for Chinese couples.

Greece wants to get a share of the more that 10 million Chinese tourists who came to Europe last year with authorities aiming to tap into an ever-growing tourist market.

Of the 10 million Chinese holidaymakers who made it to Europe in 2016, only 50,000 went through Athens International Airport, according to the Hellenic Statistical Service.

A Chinese tourist taking a "selfie" at the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri of Thera.”The number is small despite Greece’s great popularity among the Chinese,” said George Drakopoulos, special adviser to the secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Speaking to the Athens News Agency, Drakopoulos said this figure can grow to 250,000 over the next three years.

According to Drakopoulos the main reason behind the lagging figure is the lack of direct flights between destinations in China and Greece.

“The main reason for this poor performance is usually due to lack of direct air links between China and Greece. However, no airline will add a flight if sufficient demand is not guaranteed from a city in China to Greece,” he said and added that for there to be demand there must be coordinated actions by Greek sector authorities and an extensive marketing plan in place.

Speaking at a press conference last year, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said that China was among the key target markets with the ministry aiming to strongly promote Greece as a “unique tourism destination”.

Drakopoulos stressed that Chinese tourists tend to spend more while on holiday and said the focus should be on bringing in travelers from China initially to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos and then to Crete, Rhodes and the Ionian islands.

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