Konstantinos Loulis with Juneyao Air Co. Ltd President, Hong Liang Zhao

Greece’s Tourism Ministry on Monday announced the launch of direct flights between Shanghai and Athens, following an agreement signed between Tourism Secretary General, Konstantinos Loulis with Juneyao Air Co. Ltd President, Hong Liang Zhao.

“The direct air connection between Athens and Shanghai will play a vital role in boosting the number of Chinese travelers to Greece. Of the more than 140 million Chinese tourists who traveled abroad in 2018, only 125,000 visited Greece. Our goal is to quadruple this number immediately, that is to say, bring 500,000 Chinese tourists to visit Greece, which aims to attract at least 1% of the Chinese who travel abroad,” said Loulis.

Loulis stressed that the launch of “the direct air link between Athens and Shanghai will be crucial toward this end.” The prospects for increasing Chinese tourist arrivals to Greece are considered very high for an additional reason, namely that 9% of Chinese nationals currently have a passport.

This agreement comes just days after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Greece and China, which provides, among others, for an increase in the number of regular flights to 35 a week, from 14 at present.

These deals pave the way for Greece to attract more Chinese tourists, who spend over 270 billion dollars a year on their vacations.

The deal was part of a larger effort to attract investment by a Greek government delegation headed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who was in China to attend the International Expo in Shanghai where Greece was one of the honoured countries.

The direct flights will start in July 2020, following strong interest expressed by the Chinese airline Juneyao Air.

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