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Tourism Paves Way to New Era in Greece-China Ties

A Chinese tourist taking a “selfie” at the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri of Thera.

On the back of a newly inked agreement with Chinese carrier Juneyao Air for direct flights from Shanghai to Athens as of July 2020, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said on Monday that the ministry was preparing a strategic plan to reach out to the Chinese market aiming to bring some 500,000 Chinese travelers to Greece by 2021.

Speaking on SKAI television, Theoharis underlined the importance of the Shanghai-Athens deal for direct flights together with an increase in the flight frequency on the existing Beijing-Athens route.

Tourism is one of the areas of cooperation to be enhanced under stronger ties between China and Greece as agreed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was in Athens this week.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Photo Source: @Prime Minister GR

“As you have seen in Shanghai, China is committed to an economic opening. I believe that our cooperation can lead to a combination of our capabilities,” Xi said, adding that he had “high expectations” for the future of Greek-Chinese relations.

Mitsotakis and Xi were scheduled on Monday, to visit Piraeus port, which was high on the agenda of talks during the Greek PM’s visit to China earlier this month as well attend the opening of Bank of China’s first Greek branch.

Majority owned by Cosco, Piraeus port is China’s largest investment in Greece. Cosco’s revised master plan for the port upgrade was approved last month.

“Our common goal is to make Piraeus not only the largest port in the Mediterranean, but in Europe”, Mitsotakis said, welcoming the establishment of China Development Bank and ICBC offices in Athens, as well as of the opening of a Bank of China branch in the Greek capital.

Photo Source: Piraeus Port Authority

Photo Source: Piraeus Port Authority

During his meeting at Cosco headquarters in Shanghai, earlier this month, Mitsotakis said the company’s additional plans to expand the port’s container capacity were “open to discussion”.

Xi’s trip is set close with a visit to the Acropolis Museum on Tuesday.

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