Having China as a priority tourism market, Greece is working on increasing the number of Chinese visitors to the country through a series of strategic actions, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said on Friday.
Speaking during the presentation of the Chinese online travel platform Alitrip to Greek entrepreneurs, Minister Kountoura referred to a set of measures to strengthen the flow of visitors from China to Greece that include launching Athens-Beijing direct flights from September and facilitating visa procedures for Chinese nationals in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“We aim to attract 500,000-600,000 Chinese tourists each year to our country in the next two years,” Minister Kountoura said during the event titled “Alitrip in Greece: Enhancing incoming tourism from China to Greece”. The event aimed to inform Greek entrepreneurs on the business advantages of signing up to the Chinese travel platform. Alitrip is a subsidiary of leading Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group.
In 2016, Greece attracted some 150,000 Chinese tourists, up from some 20,000 tourists from China during the years before 2015. “This is a significant increase, even if the number still does not satisfy us, given that 15 million Chinese nationals travel in Europe,” Kountoura said.
She added that the Alitrip platform can significantly contribute to the promotion of Greece’s thematic regional tourist products, making the country a main destination for Chinese holidaymakers that travel in Europe and internationally.
Moreover, Minister Kountoura informed that the Tourism Ministry is currently working with the Ministry of Economy and Development to promote the Alipay payment system — a main means of payment in China — in Greece. According to Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Konstantinos Michalos, the adoption of the Alipay Chinese payment system by Greek businesses will further facilitate Chinese travellers when visiting Greece. The Alipay system will be available from the beginning of July in Greek stores.
Chinese tourists spend most on tourism abroad in 2016
According to recent data by the UNWTO, 2016 was a strong year for outbound tourism from China, the world’s leading outbound market. International tourism expenditure grew by US$ 11 billion to US$ 261 billion, an increase by 12%. The number of outbound travellers rose 6% to 135 million in 2016. This growth consolidates China’s position as number one source market in the world since 2012, following a trend of double-digit growth in tourism expenditure every year since 2004.