Warning on tourism policy

Tourism must be treated as the most important sector of the country’s economy, since indeed it is, said Nikos Angelopoulos, the president of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), yesterday as PASOK prepared to form its government. Reports in the media had suggested that Prime Minister-elect George Papandreou is planning to abolish the Tourism Development Ministry and merge it with the Culture Ministry. Angelopoulos warned that any administrative changes must take into account the sector’s economic importance, otherwise there would be a risk of distortions in the market’s operation. He also called for the new government to take into account the fact that, based on past experience, tourism recovers rapidly after periods of crisis. Meanwhile a Stat Bank survey showed yesterday that the biggest travel and tourism agencies of the country, based on turnover, posted losses of 22.2 percent in 2008, according to officially reported figures.