Tourism minister promises better growth conditions

Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos yesterday outlined the way forward toward a more dynamic tourism sector that will play an even bigger part than currently in Greece’s economic growth. «We will put an end to the inflexible bureaucracy that has harassed the professionals in the tourism sector and which threatens even the bright prospects brought by the successful staging of the Olympic Games,» Avramopoulos said at a conference on the post-Olympic prospects of the Greek economy. Avramopoulos said that his ministry’s strategy will be based on its input on a new law on investment incentives, the so-called Development Law, which the government is to submit to Parliament before the end of the year. His ministry, resurrected after nine years by the recently elected conservative government, has already submitted its proposals relative to the Development Law. He added that the absorption of European Union funds earmarked through the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) program, had risen from a paltry 0.7 percent at the beginning of the year to about 30 percent and that the ministry’s target was to achieve an absorption rate of over 50 percent by the end of the year. Avramopoulos also said that an effort is being made to attract foreign visitors from developing markets, such as those of China, Korea and Turkey, and also to increase penetration in markets such as the Middle East countries and Russia. The minister said that his main aim was to make Greece again one of the premier tourist destinations in the world. The ministry’s strategy involves developing all of Greece as a potential tourist area and not just focusing on the few saturated island markets. The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) will once again play an active marketing role, with the reopening of regional offices as well as a stronger presence aboard. Avramopoulos referred to plans to establish a consumer protection service, upgrade the training of sector professionals and improve transparency in the development and management of public property through the Tourism Development Company (ETA, the former Hellenic Tourism Properties).