The Tourism Development Ministry wants to attract quality tourism from the British market, sharing this goal with the Greek private tourism industry, Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos said yesterday. Spiliotopoulos is currently in London, heading the Greek delegation to World Travel Market, along with Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agencies (HATTA) President Yiannis Evangelou. In 2005, Greece received 2.7 million British tourists, a figure that dropped to 2.6 million in 2006, while the decline is projected to continue this year. The target of the private tourism industry is to attract high-income visitors. Evangelou told Kathimerini that the UK tourism market is a leader in Europe not only in terms of production but also in competitive tricks and other novel ideas. «The trick, for instance, that says, ‘Come to the airport and we will send you for a week’s vacation in Greece; we’ll tell you where only at the very last minute, for just 49.90 pounds,’ addresses the lower end of the market.» According to Evangelou the UK has a tourism clientele with other interests and preferences, too, which Greece has not yet targeted in any methodical, systematic fashion. These people do not go to places that sell out through offers for cheap vacation. This clientele is interested in cruises, group or corporate trips, conferences, cultural visits, travel in less popular months, and certainly generates more revenue per head. He added that in the UK, as in the rest of Europe, priority is now being given to the protection of the environment and the use of destinations renowned for their natural beauty as well as the environmental regulations that protect them from catastrophes of various types. «It is obvious that now, more than ever, the new minister and all of us tourism professionals must proceed with a specific plan, redefining our targets in the UK market, by moving from cheap packages to specialized and quality ones,» said Evangelou. Spiliotopoulos also met yesterday with officials from low-cost airline Ryanair who expressed their interest in Greece. «We are in a phase where this process is maturing, discussions continue, although we are not so interested in the numbers of visitors but in their quality; what they leave behind and how they go; whether they leave as ambassadors of Greece – that is what has the greatest value for us,» said the minister.