Greek restaurant owners excited to welcome back visitors from China
Evangelos Sipsas in Athens

Greece has decided to introduce restrictions on travelers from China, overturning its recent ruling that no such limitations would be imposed.

Coming just a few days after direct flights between the two countries were introduced, the government U-turn has gone down badly with business leaders.

Even so, some in the tourism sector are still looking forward to a strong uptick in numbers of travelers from China.

"I'm not afraid at all," restaurant owner Georgios Vaitsoglou tells CGTN Europe. "I have many Chinese clients and I know that they will respect us and take all precautions so they can be safe and make sure that we will be safe. The only thing I can say is 'I can't wait to see them'."


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The new measures introduced by Greece's ministry of health include the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to departure shown by travelers from China and the use of high-protection masks at all Greek airports.

Additional measures include sewage collection from airports with international flights and aircraft arriving from China.

It's a complete reversal of the stance of Greek authorities who just days earlier announced that there would be no special pandemic-related restrictions to travelers from China.

There's concern over the increasing surge of cases and fears that the spread of the virus could increase again. Yet many restaurants owners say that COVID-19 has become a way of life and that they are more concerned with inflation than travelers from China.

Travelers from China are expected to boost Greece's economy – despite tests and inflation. /CGTN
Travelers from China are expected to boost Greece's economy – despite tests and inflation. /CGTN

Travelers from China are expected to boost Greece's economy – despite tests and inflation. /CGTN

"I'm not concerned at all," says Spiros Bairaktaris, another restaurant owner. "I'm sure that before they leave China, they'll be fully vaccinated and take all safety measures. Yes, we have to be careful, but not only about air travelers from China, but everywhere. I'm looking forward to Chinese people coming to Greece."

"The virus is something of the past and I'm not worried at all," taverna owner Abdu adds. "It has become part of our everyday life, we have taken all measures, from tests and vaccinations, so I don't think that Chinese tourists are the problem. Quite the contrary, the real problem is inflation, that's what we're worried about."

During almost three years of strict measures and limited flights, Greek tourism almost collapsed.

Since coming out of the pandemic the tourism sector has rebounded, with record numbers of arrivals, higher even than those from 2019. Those numbers are expected to increase as more flights from China are announced, assuming visitors are not discouraged by the new restrictions.

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