In Brief

Eurostat checks finances for 1997-99 period A group of experts from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, yesterday began its examination of public finances from the years 1997-1999. The visit follows a report by the Greek government that its predecessors had understated budget deficits for the period from 2000 to 2003. Eurostat is especially interested in the 1999 deficit figure, because it was on this basis that Greece was admitted into the eurozone at the EU summit of June 2000. Eurostat will report its findings today. Privately, Economy and Finance Ministry officials have said that the deficit in 1999 was slightly below the EU requirement of 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Other sources have claimed that the fact that Eurostat’s visit will last just 24 hours is an indication that the examination will be cursory. Tourism industry calls for significant investment Tourism-reliant Greece needs to invest far more than than what the government has planned if the key industry is to enjoy a post-Olympic Games bounce, the industry’s umbrella group SETE said yesterday. «Greek tourism needs to invest 300 million euros ($372.2 million – in the next three years) in organizational structures and marketing activity if it wants to capitalize on the Olympic Games,» SETE said in a statement. Greece had 12 million visitors last year, more than its 11 million population. Tourism employs about 800,000 people and makes up 18 percent of its economy. Hopes of a tourism boom on the back of the August 13-29 Games were dashed when fewer than expected visitors showed up, deterred by security concerns, price hikes and poor marketing. But the tourism industry is hoping a pickup in bookings after the Games will herald a better season next year. The Tourism Ministry has said it plans to spend 31 million euros next year to promote the country abroad. Greece also needs to diversify its tourism products to attract high-spending tourists, SETE said, citing theme cruises, yachting and conferences as some of the alternatives to the country’s traditional sun and sea attractions. (Reuters) CEO approved Shareholders of mobile phone service provider Stet Hellas approved the appointment of a new chief executive yesterday. Stet Hellas last month named Socrates Kominakis, 36, a former top manager at rival Vodafone Greece, as its chief executive, taking over from Nikolaos Varsakis, who had resigned. Shareholders also agreed to change the company’s legal name to TIM Hellas Telecommunications SA. In February, it adopted the TIM brand of its parent Telecom Italia Mobile. Shareholders approved an increase in the number of members on the board of directors to 11 from seven now. Telecom Italia Mobile holds an 81.4 percent stake in Stet Hellas, which is listed on the Nasdaq and Amsterdam exchanges. (Reuters)