Revenues up, tourists down

Higher tourism receipts offset a slight slowdown in tourist arrivals last year, making 2002 a «successful year,» Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said yesterday. «An improvement in quality led to a 1 percent increase in tourism revenues,» he said, citing Bank of Greece statistics. In contrast, tourist arrivals were down by 1 percent. Last year was also marked by a 1.5 percent drop in charter flights, counterbalanced, however, by an 8.5 percent rise in harbor arrivals. «Despite projections of a bad year in 2002, we ultimately had a successful year,» Tsochadzopoulos said. He said prospects this year will be determined by the duration and the intensity of any war in Iraq. Tsochadzopoulos also announced a series of measures to upgrade the tourism industry and improve coordination between the different bodies. The ministry is due to launch a tourism website next month which will facilitate access to tourist sites and facilities in Greece. It also plans to set up a committee of experts to chart out a tourist policy and to coordinate the different agencies by the first half of 2004. A separate body will be created to take charge of marketing Greek tourism assets. The ministry is also pushing for a chamber of tourism. About ETA, the asset management arm of the Greek National Tourism Organization, Tsochadzopoulos said the company will be floated in the second quarter of the year. The State is aiming to raise 150 million euros from the sale of a 25 percent stake. ETA last year posted profits of 14.7 million euros, while annual revenues from the privatization of marinas and other assets totaled 28.5 million euros. Private sector investments in developing the facilities are estimated at 465 million euros.

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