ECONOMY

Gov’t plans legal protection agency for visitors to Greece

The Tourism Development Ministry is preparing to set up a special agency to provide the approximately 13 million foreign tourists each year with quality legal coverage while in Greece. This agency will supply visitors to this country with legal advice, will mediate when a tourist is involved in unpleasant situations and problems with legal consequences, as well as facilitate the solution of legal problems that may arise during a tourist’s visit to Greece. According to Deputy Tourism Minister Anastassios Liaskos, this agency will need to act in a rapid, flexible and effective way given that tourists require assistance – and if possible a solution – especially quickly in order to avoid disappointment and allow them to enjoy their holidays on their usually short stay in Greece and leave with the best impressions. The aim of the project, as part of the high-quality tourism services provided, is to attract tourists of higher income brackets to Greece, and to allow them to feel greater security in this country. The objectives of the legal support program for tourists are: – To highlight immediately and efficiently the new hospitality profile of Greece and to improve indirectly the quality of the time tourists spend in the country. – To create a feeling of security and certainty for the protection of tourists’ rights. – To provide tourists with satisfactory protection from inappropriate, unprofessional or other behavior in Greece and inspire a new tourism mentality headed by professionalism, cleanliness and honesty. – To systematically record and highlight repeated problems and weaknesses in Greek tourism, and to set about overcoming them. – To use the communication and information technology to the advantage of tourism without committing significant resources from the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO). – To create a mild form of intervention at agencies of public administration without using complex mechanisms; something that could gradually be realized via connection with similar sources or bodies of information and the activation of a network of legal scientists or bodies that have a key role in such issues anyway. The plan suggests that the project’s realization will initially rely on the existing knowledge of tourists’ legal support issues by a coordination team that is to be made up of GNTO officials and experts in EU subjects and international law. Then a work group will follow comprising law school students or practicing lawyers with an expertise in seeking information (mainly through the Internet, as well as from other sources, such as ministries, embassies, chambers, travel agencies etc). This team is to be responsible for a field research project to collect the essential legal data and organizing material in a single database, as well as for planning and operating the legal protection mechanism for tourists in a pilot phase. For this primary stage, it remains to be defined where this service is to be applied, the means and the ways of promoting the project to tourists, as well as how tourists are to communicate with the GNTO. Modern technological instruments and telecommunication infrastructures may well be used to realize the project, such as the existing GNTO website on the Internet.