ECONOMY

Big hopes for Greek tourism

The Greek tourism sector will make big leap forward in 2006, with the promotion of several ambitious plans which will set the stage for it to account for about a quarter of the country’s income in 10 years’ time, the government said yesterday. «If the targets set are attained and the new standards and specifications are observed, we foresee that the tourism business will be 30-35 percent larger by 2015, and revenues will represent about 25 percent of gross domestic product, against 18 percent today,» Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos told a press briefing for the international tourism fair «Philoxenia 2005» in Thessaloniki. He said the plans include new charter terminals at the military airports of Andravida and Anghialos in the western Peloponnese, and the development of the country’s numerous spa facilities, on the basis of legislation which will «settle many outstanding issues» in coming weeks. “Foreign investors in the tourism sector will soon find a very friendly environment in Greece, while the law on public/private investment partnerships will open up new prospects,» Avramopoulos said. He noted that six or seven large foreign investment schemes are making progress while others, long blocked, will follow. He said that no-frills airline Ryanair will soon begin flights to and from Greece. Threat At a separate press briefing for Philoxenia, Hellenic Association of Tourist and Travel Agents (HATTA) President Yiannis Evangelou said the application of the European Commission’s directive for a single market in services would be catastrophic for Greece, as it would allow companies to choose as a base any member state that offered tax advantages and transfer staff from it to the others where it may maintain branches. Regarding calls for amending the directive on organized tours, Evangelou said European consumers want greater protection during their travels but that this would mean higher prices.