Seven-pronged plan to bolster tourism

The Ministry of Tourism has drafted a seven-point plan to be implemented within 10 weeks with the aim of reversing the negative climate in Greece?s biggest industry.

According to Minister Olga Kefaloyianni, the plan provides for the promotion of Greece as a destination in top-priority traditional markets such as Germany, Britain and Scandinavia, as well as in Russia and China, where there is a fast-growing interest in foreign travel, and North America.

It includes the establishment of a crisis management committee which will start working without delay to improve the country?s image in international markets. A new marketing company, already planned to be jointly formed through a public-private partnership, will be created immediately.

The ministry will also move ahead with the acceleration and simplification of visa issuing and attempt to iron out some issues related to travel within the Schengen zone.

A structural reorganization of the ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization will follow, while various programs which to date had been handled by other ministries, such as the state-subsidized ?social tourism? programs that have already begun operating, will now be brought together under the umbrella of the Tourism Ministry.

Achieving an industrial peace agreement is among the ministry?s top priorities. The minister has expressed her intention to establish a good-faith moratorium regarding industrial action and reach a deal for cooperation among political parties, employer associations and worker unions as well as other tourism associations in a bid to avert extraordinary situations and repeated uncontrolled strike action that undermines tourism during the peak summer months.

Kefaloyianni has announced that in the coming months her ministry will table an omnibus bill in Parliament aimed at solving perennial problems in the sector. She also intends to secure resources from the European Union-funded National Strategic Reference Framework to establish training programs for unemployed hotel staff during the off-season.

Besides the abovementioned seven points, the ministry?s long-term planning provides for initiatives such as the revision of the zoning plan for tourism, the drafting of a new investment incentives law for the sector, the creation of a strategy for air transport and the upgrading of tourism education.

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