Call for tourism chamber

Leading tourist organizations in the country yesterday endorsed the creation of a chamber of tourism, hoping that the body will boost the industry and lift it out of a two-year slump. The move is expected to put pressure on the government which has expressed support but has yet to take any measure to realize the scheme. The organizations, 11 bodies representing some 300,000 companies, jointly signed a declaration calling for the setting up of a chamber of tourism. The move came as the Greek National Tourism Organization reported a fall in bookings in the first four months of the year stemming from the uncertainties in the runup to the war in Iraq and during the duration of the conflict. The decline, however, dates back to the September 11 attacks on the USA, an event which shook the global tourism industry and change the traveling habits of some nationalities. Greece is hoping to attract 14 million tourists this year, unchanged from the previous year, with other markets helping to offset the fewer number of holidaymakers expected from Germany. A 7-million-euro marketing campaign is seen as crucial to the sector’s recovery. The proposed chamber of tourism would provide a voice for organizations that are currently unrepresented by any body and, at the same time, put an end to the segmentation prevailing in the industry, the signees said. They stressed that a single body would have stronger negotiating powers with the State on issues concerning the industry. The signees suggested broadening the membership of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels and subsequently transforming it into the chamber of tourism.