‘Are there any Chinese there?’ Greek tourism hit hard by cancellations amid coronavirus outbreak

by on 14 February 2020

The effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus are not just about those who have caught it. The outbreak has had significant knock-on effects on the Chinese economy, as well as the tourism industry worldwide.

In Greece, about 200,000 tourists arrived in 2019 and at least 250,000 were expected this year.

The island of Santorini is a beloved destination for many Chinese tourists. But since the outbreak, scores are simply not showing up.

The rate may be small, but it is critical, as Chinese tourists travel in low demand times (especially in winter, when they have New Year’s holidays). Also, Chinese people spend more on their holidays than average tourists spend in Europe.

Of the Chinese tourists coming to Greece, 90% end up in Santorini.

‘Are there any Chinese there?’

The island is already registering a ‘cancellation domino’, not only from China but from tourists from the rest of the world, who cancel their trip when they learn that there are Chinese in Santorini.

Of the 3,000 Chinese expected at this time, not even 1,000 have arrived on the island.

Asians in Europe have fallen victim to alienation, as many associate them with being virus carriers, when many have never set foot inside China.

While Euronews interviewed a tourist from South Korea, a man in a passing car shouted at him saying he should be wearing a mask.

See the interview in the player above

Revenue losses

Airlines have cut routes to Santorini, causing problems for islanders and business people.

Local agents estimate that they will lose 10% of this year’s tourism revenue, which has a knock-on effect on the entire local economy: trade, transport, services.

“Cancellations have reached 60-70% in February and March. We fear we will reach 100% cancellations for April, as consulates have stopped issuing travel visas,” said Antonis Iliopoulos, president of Santorini Hoteliers.

“We have customers from all over the world, who were planning to travel to Santorini. Now they call the hotels and ask if there will be any Chinese people in the hotel. If so, they do not want to come,” he added.

Hoteliers in Greece have asked the Greek government for help to cover their losses.