At the end of May, Greek and Chinese state officials and industry representatives met in Greece, and said they would explore ways to unlock the great potential of sea tourism on a bilateral and international level. A senior Greek official also said that she wants her country to become Chinese tourists' number one destination in Europe.
Constantin Cakioussis, Consul General of Greece in Guangzhou expects the upcoming China (Guangdong) International Tourism Industry Expo (CITIE) in Guangzhou this September will be a bridge for bilateral tourism cooperation.
“I think China is already attracted a lot of tourists, including from my country. ”
Newsgd.com: Greece has done an excellent job on promoting the tourism in China. What’s your suggestion for Guangdong to promote tourism?
Mr. Cakioussis: First of all, the base of the tourism is the culture. Greece and China are sharing a huge wealth of culture. They are two parts of the civilization (in the world). I would describe them as the two pioneers of the world’s civilization. This is an excellent base for promoting tourism.
I think that China is right to rely on culture. CITIE this year promotes traditional medicine.
Of course, with such a long history, we have lots of opportunities to promote different parts, each part is equally important. For example in Guangdong, you have Lingnan culture; you have pre-historic museum of dinosaurs, which is extremely important; you have the Hakka culture. You have so many things and you can rely on those to attract tourists.
At the same time, you have a modern part. This is better seen in Guangzhou itself. Guangzhou is a very old town. (It) has the elder parts of the town, Shamian Area. And then you have Tianhe, which to me is already a museum of modern architecture. You have places worth visiting as monument, more than architecture. Television tower, opera house, so many. So I think you do have the bases to do promotion, and I think China is already attracted a lot of tourists, including from my country.
“Many people know a lot about Chinese ancient history, but very few of them understand modern architecture here.”
Newsgd.com: What can Guangdong do to make itself more international?
Mr. Cakioussis: Guangdong can use the tools available. For example, communicating by the Internet. Also, Chinese tourists who go abroad are your ambassadors. Because tourism in today means contact. If Chinese tourists go to Greece, talks to the locals: Look! You have here the very ancient, and important monument. But you know, in my country, we have different culture. Tourists can compare. This is promotion. Internet, especially you should have text into local language to do promotion, like using Greek in Greece, using French in France, etc. A former Prime minister said to me once that the tourism is the most delicate product. Any thing or any strong wind blow can shut a season or a year’s harvest. So I think China is a perfect place to visit exactly because of the stability.
Newsgd.com: People say that travel is a process of looking for differences. How is the modern part of Guangzhou appealing to them?
Mr. Cakioussis: The modern part, is something that the western tourists can understand. This also plays an important role. Tourists feel comfortable and feel it like home.
Newsgd.com: Tell us your country’s participation of the CITIE this year?
Mr. Cakioussis: Actually, Greece at the moment is participating in many fairs including the Guangzhou tourism fair. We have participated in the past, to a China International Tourism Industry Expo. We have participated twice in the past with very good result. We also do a lot of work with Internet, so we are having the agreement with the most important Internet providers, so that we can promote Greece. We also rely on the fact that Chinese people know about Greece. Thousands of tourists who have come to my country came back satisfied. Introducing by word out of mouth, this is the most important. Every time the Chinese tourists come back to China and post his happy moment on Wechat or QQ. This is the best promotion for us.