The number of Chinese visitors that have cancelled trips to Greece due to the coronavirus outbreak has already reached 60 to 70 percent, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said on Thursday.
Speaking on state broadcaster ERT, the Minister Theoharis evaluated the situation and whether or not it will affect Greek tourism.
“Greece last year received 31,350,000 tourists – not counting 5.5 million cruise passengers – and of those visitors, only 200,000 were Chinese, which is a small figure,” the minister said, referring to China as a “market still opening up” to Greece.
Taking that under consideration, the minsiter said that the cancellations of Chinese travelers “does not affect the Greek tourism product so negatively”.
Minister Theoharis added that the ministry’s aim to attract 500,000 Chinese tourists is a target for 2021, “so there is still time”.
According to the minister, protecting the country from the coronavirus is of utmost importance and the fact that there are cancellations by Chinese travelers is also of high significance.
“What matters both for the health of our population and for the wider image of our country is to shield ourselves against this virus. The most important thing – more important than any cancellation – is that our country shows that it is safe and that the measures we are taking are capable of protecting us,” he stressed.
Moreover, the minister added that the situation brought “a number of positive side effects” that are important for Greece, referring to the Norwegian Spirit cruise ship of Norwegian Cruise Line, which left Dubai due to cancellations of Chinese travelers and will come to Piraeus in April to homeport.
“Another positive impact is that many European tourists that had chosen Asia as their destination will now switch to new markets,” Minister Theoharis said, adding that Greece is seeing a rise in bookings and therefore the “picture is positive” for tourism.
On Wednesday, Air China announced that it would suspend its direct flights between Athens and Beijing.