ECONOMY

New model for tourism has made Greece more competitive with rival countries, says minister

The creation of a new tourism model is what has helped Greece face international competition – a model characterized by quality, diversity and viability on a 12-month basis in the context of developing special forms of tourism, Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos said yesterday. «Maintaining an obsolete, conventional and one-sided model that only makes Greece the queen of the summer season does not interest us at all,« Spiliotopoulos said, addressing the Economist conference in Athens. «What we want is not temporary tourism growth with an expiry date, like a firework that goes out as do the last traces of tourists in fall. We want tourism that is representative of Greek beauty. A model that is contemporary, vibrant, brimming with surprises and unique experiences,» added the minister. He also stated that Greece aims to consolidate its position among the top destinations on the global map. Spiliotopoulos presented data on the absorption of Community funds for tourism for the period 2000-2006, which by the end of 2007 had reached a rate of 86.6 percent, compared to below 10 percent in March 2004. By December 31, 2007, the ministry had implemented projects totaling 690.4 million euros, for which the state spent 247.2 million euros. A number of new projects are also due to be completed during the course of 2008, such as the star-rating system for accommodation across the country and a training program for employees, the seasonally unemployed and entrepreneurs active in tourism. In the framework of the investment incentives law, the government has approved 1,057 investments in tourism totaling 3.65 billion euros. This has directly or indirectly created 7,500 new jobs. The board of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers’ Associations (POX) yesterday expressed their concern to Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis about the international financial environment and its impact on Greek tourism this year.