Government plans overhaul of tourism agencies, policy

An interministerial committee will on Monday discuss ways to boost tourism, one of Greece’s major sources of income. Part of the discussion will be centered on overhauling the administration of tourism, so as to improve marketing and facilitate deals with foreign and domestic investors. Part of the overhaul involves the listing of Hellenic Tourism Properties, a subsidiary of Greece’s National Tourism Organization (GNTO), on the Athens Stock Exchange. Yesterday, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos and ETA Managing director Tassos Homenidis presented the advertising campaign that will support the company’s listing next month. The campaign has been undertaken by international agency Leo Burnett. «The Development Ministry has proven that it lists public companies very successfully, creating stock market heavyweights, such as the Public Power Corporation, Hellenic Petroleum and, now, ETA,» Tsochadzopoulos said. Homenidis added that ETA will now become a manager of subsidiaries and leasing contracts, whose profit will derive either from income from the leasings or from sales of GNTO property. He said that, in its three years of existence, ETA had helped create investments worth 450 million euros and creating 6,000 jobs. The government also wants to develop property owned by the Church of Greece, with the Church’s consent. but, as officials were saying, «a multitude of bureaucratic obstacles have made the Church wary of taking initiatives to develop its property.» At present, the state and the Church are embroiled in a dispute over the latter’s wish to develop a property located in the center of Athens by building a hotel. State delays have already ensured that the hotel, if it is built, will not be ready on time for the Athens Olympics next year. The problem is that all actions required to develop the tourist sectors need the coordination of at least 11 ministries and several agencies. That is why the government plans to boost the Tourism Secretariat under the Ministry of Development and merge some GNTO directorates with it. The government also plans to create a marketing agency and a Tourist Economy Institute, which will act as the state’s main adviser.