Tourism Panorama, the annual exhibition held in Piraeus, opened its gates to the public yesterday at the OLP exhibition center, launched by Deputy Minister for Tourism Development Anastassios Liaskos. In the opening ceremony, Liaskos explained why Greeks find they may pay more than foreign visitors on their holidays. «Greek tourists pay for their delay in deciding where and when they will spend their holidays,» he said, assuring that hoteliers do not distinguish domestic tourists from foreigners. He stressed that one of the main pillars of the ministry’s policy is the development and promotion of the tourism product in the internal market: «Domestic tourism has particular importance for Greece, as it can contribute to distributing tourism along seasonal and geographic lines, in regional development and in job creation,» he explained. Liaskos further announced that besides the «We Stay in Greece» promotional campaign, the ministry is more than doubling its fund allocation for the Greek National Tourism Organization’s subsidized tourism program, from 2.5 million euros in 2004 to 6 million euros in 2005. The program is complete this year, providing families, young and retired people from the more financially challenged classes, with offers for holidays in Greece. In association with hoteliers, tourism programs will be available not just to Greek but to all EU citizens, regardless of their taxable income. Discounts will range from between 30 and 50 percent for groups of four or more people. Another 10 percent will be deducted for bookings by April 30. Separately, the Labor Ministry will operate a pilot scheme offering eight-day cruises in Greece from May 6 to June 10 to 4,500 workers or pensioners to be chosen by public drawing after applying between April 11 and 15. This applies only to those who did not participate in any state-subsidized tourism program last year. Greeks’ appetite for tourism remains unabated, as the annual Kappa Research tourism survey, presented at the exhibition, shows. The steady rise in traveling abroad continues, with 25.8 percent of Greeks saying they do so once a year and 6.1 percent, twice. However, those taking recreational trips with overnight stays declined from 70 percent in 2002 to 57 percent. The average expenditure on holidays was 1,300 euros, an average of about 105 euros per day. Finally, a significant 44 percent consider foreign tourists better looked after than Greek ones. The 10th Tourism Panorama exhibition, with Thessaly as the region of honor, is organized by the Express-Kalofolias group and will last through Sunday.