Tourism set to recover

The year 2005 will mark the recovery of tourism in Greece, said Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos during Philoxenia, the international tourism exhibition in Thessaloniki which ends tomorrow. Circumstances are particularly favorable after the Olympics and the government will not miss the opportunity, as the previous tourism leadership did during the pre-Olympic period, he said. Avramopoulos reiterated his determination to change the face of Greek tourism from the sea-sun pattern, promoting alternative forms such as conference, exhibition, cultural and city tourism as well as ecotourism, diving and sailing tourism. However, he expressed dissatisfaction with the activity of the Tourism Development Company (ETA) to date, stressing that if certain action is not taken by the year’s end, changes cannot be ruled out. The ministry has set a timetable giving ETA until the end of the year to adopt specific investment initiatives. The current policy involves luring investors as a core objective, and with the new investment incentives bill Greece will become a destination for investments for both foreign and Greek entrepreneurs wishing to be involved in the tourism sector. The minister announced that along these lines there will be incentives per destination and per form of themed tourism ideal for each region. He also promised measures to upgrade and modernize accommodation, and noted the investors’ interest in building hotels, spas, golf courses and marinas. Regional and local authorities as well as the private sector have to share the burden of helping tourism, concluded Avramopoulos. Deputy Minister for Tourism Anastassios Liaskos, among others, addressed the Sino-Greek forum organized yesterday by the International Herald Tribune. Liaskos said the ministry is targeting the Chinese market through a broad and ambitious program aimed at Greece becoming the top choice in Europe for Chinese tourists in the next few years. Speaking to Greek and Chinese entrepreneurs, he invited them to cooperate on tourism, assuring them that Athens will do all it can to serve the common aim.