ECONOMY

HATTA’s gloomy return from China

Greek tourism entrepreneurs yesterday criticized the government over its policy planning for attracting Chinese tourists. «If we wish to open the Chinese market we must approach the matter on the basis of a careful study, covering all its aspects simultaneously, that is, bilateral agreement, consular offices, issuing of visas and bureaus of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO). The agreement with China, for which so much was said, has been frozen and in all probability the Foreign Ministry is responsible for this,» said N. Evangelou, chairman of the Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agents (HATTA), who visited the GNTO-organized exhibit at the recent tourism exhibition in Shanghai. HATTA said in a statement that despite the Greek participants’ commendable presence at the Shanghai event, the prospects for higher demand by Chinese tourists for Greece «could not be described as particularly optimistic» and that the interest shown was rather «mediocre.» HATTA says it bases its assessment on three negative factors. First, the lack of direct flights between the two countries. Second, the lack of adequate promotion; «the absence of a GNTO bureau in Shanghai – which has been announced – deprives us of any effort for effective promotion, as in no case can the requirements be met by the bureau in Japan… Chinese people have a good image of our country but are not familiar with our tourism product.» Third is the problem with issuing visas: «The inadequate number of Greek consulates in China, especially in Shanghai and Canton, the delay in upgrading our consulate in Beijing and serious problems with Schengen visas are crucially negative factors.»