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Greece expects more Chinese visitors with extra direct air links

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A view of the Parthenon temple atop the Acropolis hill, Athens, Greece.[Photo/Agencies]

Greece is ready to welcome more Chinese visitors in 2024, with an increase in the number of direct air links between Athens and Beijing and Shanghai as of April 1.

“The Chinese market is very important to us. It was one of the fastest-growing markets before the pandemic. We believe we can exceed the pre-pandemic level of arrivals,” said the Greek National Tourism Organization”s general director Sofia Lazaridou at a press conference on Tuesday.

In 2023, data from Athens International Airport (AIA) showed that tourism arrivals from China had already recovered to 90 percent of 2019 levels, said Ioanna Papadopoulou, AIA’s director of communications and marketing.

Starting from April 1, the number of direct flights operated by Air China between Athens and Beijing will be increased from three to five a week for the summer season period, said Fan Heyun, general manager of Air China in Athens.

Moreover, the air carrier will start using the larger and more modern Airbus A350 aircraft, further increasing seat capacity, Fan said.

Meanwhile, the Minister Counselor of the Chinese Embassy to Greece Lai Bo said that on April 2, another Chinese air carrier, Juneyao Airlines, will launch a second direct route linking Athens to Shanghai.

Direct flights between Athens and Beijing were launched by Air China in 2017. In just two years, the air link doubled the number of Chinese arrivals at AIA from 108,613 to over 217,600 in 2019.

“AIA is China- ready. As of summer 2024, two robots will be welcoming Chinese travelers, providing information about the airport, Athens, and Greece in Chinese,” Papadopoulou said.

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