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Greece and China Aim to Boost Tourism Cooperation

The 2018 EU-China Tourism Year initiative is an opportunity for tourism development in the coming years, according to Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura.

Minister Kountoura was the keynote speaker at an event held on Tuesday at the Zappeion Hall in Athens for the Olympic Cities linked to the Silk Road. The event, organized by Multipath Travel Services and held under the auspices of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development, focused on presenting Beijing as a popular tourism destination for Greek travelers and was attended by professionals of the Greek and Chinese tourism industry.

During her speech, the Greek minister said that boosting Greece’s ties with the Chinese tourism market was a priority in the Tourism Ministry’s strategy that has been in force for the past three years. “Since 2015, strengthening the air connection between Greece and China has been a steady goal for us,” Kountoura said.

Athens and Beijing are currently connected by two weekly direct flights carried out by Air China.

According to the tourism ministry, the route has contributed to the immediate increase in tourist traffic from China to Greece.

Moreover, the minister spoke about her upcoming visit to Shanghai for the launch of the Greek cultural center HellasHouse and to promote Greek tourism during ITB China, the new three-day B2B travel exhibition exclusively focused on the Chinese travel market.

She also referred to the decisive contribution of tourism to economic growth and social prosperity, as well as to the mutual benefits that the strengthening of bilateral tourism cooperation creates in wider commercial, financial and investment activity.

On his part, Zhang Shuofu, Member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Beijing Municipal Committee and Secretary of Beijing Municipal Commission for Discipline Inspection, focused on the strong friendship that has been connecting Greece and China for over 2,000 years.

He underlined the importance of tourism cooperation between the two countries and invited the Greeks to visit Beijing.

Earlier Minister Kountoura met with the Secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the CPC, Cai Qi and discussed the tourism cooperation between Greece and China and the significant prospects for further strengthening in the coming years.

The minister informed Qi of the ministry’s dynamic opening to the Chinese tourism market and referred to the double-digit increase of arrivals of Chinese tourists to Greece in the last three years. She also focused on the ministry’s promotion program to attract more Chinese arrivals in the coming years.

Furthermore, she underlined Greece’s support to China’s Belt and Road initiative, especially on Silk Road Tourism.

Qi invited Minister Kountura to set up a meeting in June while she attends the Beijing International Tourism Expo BITE, to further discuss issues of bilateral tourism cooperation. The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) will participate in the BITE 2018 expo.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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