ECONOMY

Tourism ministry still virtual

More than two months after conservative New Democracy won the general election, no steps have been taken to organize the new Tourism Ministry, announced with much fanfare before the elections. So, for the time being, there may be a minister (Dimitris Avramopoulos) with a deputy (Anastassios Liaskos), but no ministry. Until they get some office space, the two will continue to visit tourist destinations around Greece and announce future policies. On Sunday, Avramopoulos opened the 3rd International Yachting Symposium on Poros. There, he said that the government would help develop no less than 16 alternative tourism activities in order to attract more visitors and lengthen the tourist season. «At last, in our country, after several decades of delay, a new era for Greek tourism begins thanks to the inspiration of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis,» said Avramopoulos. Meanwhile, the draft law setting up the Tourism Ministry is «at the final stage of processing,» according to government sources. The new government wants to place emphasis on promoting Greece abroad. But, if initial information is correct, it appears that this will lead to a multiplicity of directorates: one international relations directorate, an EU relations directorate and several, as yet undetermined, bilateral and multilateral relations directorates. The draft bill also provides for a special «tourism bonus» for civil servants that will be transferred to the new ministry from the Development Ministry’s tourism secretariat, to be equal to the «petroleum bonus» they currently receive.