Inflation is the threat, not visitors from China, say Greek businesses
Evangelo Sipsas in Athens
Greece has now overturned a previous decision and decided to introduce COVID-19 control measures in place for travelers from China.
The U-turn comes a few days after direct flights between the two countries restarted and has been criticized by business leaders.
"To be honest, I'm not afraid at all, 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 'I can't wait to see them'," said restaurant owner Georgios Vaitsoglou.
Late last week in a government meeting, the ministry of health decided to impose measures, including a negative COVID-19 test forty-eight hours prior to departure, for travelers from China and the use of a high-protection masks at all Greek airports. Additional measures include sewage collection from airports with international flights and aircraft arriving from China.
Such procedures are a complete reversal of the stance of Greek authorities who only last week announced that there will be no special COVID-19-related restrictions to travelers from China.
A new surge?
Now there is a concern over the increasing surge of cases and fears that the virus could spread again, but most restaurants owners say that the virus has become a way of life, and that they are more concern over inflation rather than travelers from China.
"I'm not concerned at all, I'm sure that before they leave China, they will be fully vaccinated and take all safety measures. Yes we have to be careful, but not only for air travelers from China, but everywhere. I'm looking forward to Chinese coming to Greece,”said Spiros Bairaktaris, another restaurant owner.
"The virus is something of the past and I'm not worried at all. 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," added one of his neighboring operators, Anddul.
During almost three years of strict measures and limited flights the Greek tourism industry suffered severely.
After coming out of the pandemic, though, the sector is rebounding with record numbers of arrivals, even higher than those from 2019, and those numbers are expected to increase as more flights from China are announced.
But restaurant owners and those working in the tourism industry hope to have a better idea of how the situation will play out after meeting with the health ministry on January 19.
The World Health Organization said Tuesday it did not expect a surge of Covid-19 cases in China to "significantly impact" the situation in Europe.