Upgraded tourism council will play a key policymaking role

Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos recently completely reorganized the National Tourism Council (NTC) so as to enable it to play a larger role in shaping policy and not merely act as an advisory body to the minister. The minister presides over the NTC but it is the Executive Secretariat and the Committee of Experts which are crucial for the success of the NTC’s mission. However, no appointments to the Committee of Experts have been made yet. The NTC’s plenary session will be meeting every three months. Its role is to make proposals to the minister, at the minister’s request, accompanied by a report. The plenary session also makes decisions on tourist policy, but only after a proposal by the minister. The NTC must set in advance an annual program of acts and clearly define its targets for the year. It will monitor the progress of the Tourism Development Strategy, covering the years 2004-2010, and update the strategy’s goals when necessary. The 11-member Executive Secretariat is elected by the plenary session for two years. Its members include representatives of hoteliers’ associations, chambers of commerce and trade unions. The secretariat appoints and coordinates the action of NTC working groups. It meets every two months, along with the experts’ committee. It may also meet at any time in between if the minister considers it appropriate. Like the plenary session, it has an annual agenda and targets it must meet within the year. The experts’ committee, when appointed, will be composed of top Development Ministry officials and advisers to the ministry. Its mandate is to propose policies related to tourism and submit its proposals directly to the minister. It also makes recommendations about the annual action program of the NTC and the specific targets to be met. It acts as an advisory body to the minister, the NTC and the regional directorates. The government considers next year a watershed one in tourism development. It hopes that the hosting of the Athens Olympics will have a lasting effect on the number of visitors to the country. The NTC must advise the government about specific policies to follow to take advantage of opportunities. The opposition New Democracy party, on its part, has declared that it will resurrect the defunct Ministry of Tourism if it comes to power in the next election.