BUSINESS

New company set up to promote Greek tourism

By Stathis Kousounis

The establishment of a company whose sole purpose will be promoting Greek tourism, both domestic and foreign, was recently ratified by Parliament following an amendment to a bill submitted by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks.

Marketing Greece SA is set to be funded by the private sector (70 percent) through the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) and by the state (30 percent). The company?s share capital of 1 million euros will be covered by SETE (700,000 euros) and the state (300,000 euros).

According to SETE President Andreas Andreadis, the first phase of the company?s development foresees the opening of five public relations offices, which will operate in England, Germany, France, Russia and the United States. These will be followed by another five bureaus in other countries considered of major importance to the Greek tourism market. A website in 10 languages will also be available online.

The Greek National Tourist Organization (GNTO), meanwhile, will maintain responsibility for the sector?s traditional advertising campaigns (in outdoor spaces, for instance) as well as the country?s participation in international trade shows.

According to Andreadis, Marketing Greece will manage a budget of some 6 million euros a year, around 4 million euros of which will stem from private sector participation in the endeavor.

Top priority in the near future will be given to issues such as increasing the number of Schengen visas issued, tax rates on tourism products and a scheme for luxury holiday accommodation that is available for purchase. With regard to Schengen visas, Andreadis estimated that Greece loses about 3 to 5 million tourists per year due to the visa-issuing procedure, which translates into a loss of revenue for Greek tourism of 3-5 billion euros on an annual basis.

Also according to Andreadis, an increase of 3 million visitors to Greece would lead to the immediate creation of some 60,000 jobs. Quoting from a report carried out by an international consulting agency on behalf of the UK, SETE?s president noted that countries that reduced value-added tax in tourist packages observed an increase in revenues.

On the subject of the luxury accommodation scheme for the Greek tourist sector that was put to public deliberation, Andreadis noted that its terms were much worse than a previous scheme put into effect three years ago.

Online