ECONOMY

Visa to tout Greek assets

Visa International is set to give a significant boost to the Greek tourism industry as it launches a worldwide marketing campaign promoting Greece’s attractions in conjunction with the 2004 Olympic Games. Visa, which last month signed a three-year cooperation agreement with the Greek National Tourist Organization, is hoping to duplicate the success of similar deals in other countries, said Tom Shepard, executive vice president in charge of marketing and sponsorships at Visa International. «These marketing partnerships have contributed significantly to the tourism sector and businesses in the countries and cities which have hosted the Olympic Games,» he said. Visa has been able to do this due to its network of more than 21,000 financial organizations around the world. For the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Visa teamed up with local and national organizations, contributing to a 7 percent jump in tourist arrivals to Australia. The marketing partnerships generated turnover of $1.55 billion for Visa members. This year’s Winter Olympic Games at Salt Lake City more than surpassed expectations, with Visa card transactions increasing by 30 percent compared with the same period in 2001. Shepard said Visa plans to showcase Greece in at least five regions around the world, notably in the US, Latin America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. It will promote Greece on its travel website (www.visadestina tions.com) and via hotels and airlines. An information center for Olympic visitors is also in the pipeline. Shepard said he was aiming for a full changeover to smartcards (credit cards embedded with a chip) in Greece by 2004, which would ensure greater security for cardholders although «it won’t be easy.»