ECONOMY

In Brief

Tourism operators lay bare the ills of administration Tourist arrivals are projected to fall by 3 percent this year, the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) said. In the first five months, arrivals were down 8 percent at the country’s five main airports, and though hotels are forecast to be full in July, August and September, it is unlikely that business in the autumn will make up for the shortfall so far this year, SETE officials said at the presentation of a study on «Greek Tourism 2010: Strategy & Goals.» They said a target of 19.4 million arrivals by 2010 was feasible on condition that a long-term tourism policy was planned and implemented within the framework of a stable and efficient administrative structure. «The general feeling is that the present policy is far from effective, and inadequate in the face of the particularly competitive international environment,» SETE said. «We have a multitude of measures originating at four different levels of authority… They are not part of any single strategy and are usually left at announcement stage or are implemented very slowly in a way that brings them to naught.» The devolution of the responsibilities of the National Tourist Organization (EOT) was a measure in the right direction but inadequate preparation has resulted in chaos, while the large National Tourism Council, which was to formulate overall tourism policy, has only met twice in the last eight to nine months. SETE noted nothing has been done to set up the single promotion agency – to operate on private economic criteria – which is supposed to be ready by the fall. «(Provisional) data for arrivals in 2000 was released in May… Greece has not been able to provide data either for arrivals or revenue for 2001,» SETE said, further expressing the need for schools of higher training and better planning for emergencies. 2.5-million-euro venture capital investment in diagnostic technology The National Venture Capital (NVC) subsidiary of the National Bank of Greece announced a 2.5-million-euro investment in Forth Photonics – a spin-off of the Technology and Research Institute (ITE) of the University of Crete, specializing in the development of spectral imaging diagnostic technology, particularly for cervical cancer. «This investment, among others, shows that the way is now open in Greece for the development of the ‘economy of knowledge,’ based on scientific research and the creation of innovative technological products,» said the ITE’s chairman, Professor Eleftherios Economou. NVC Managing Director Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, «The branch of medical equipment, especially non-surgical diagnostic machines, holds particular investment interest for venture capital companies.» Forth Photonics’ administration, marketing and sales will be based in London, but its research and product development center will be in Iraklion, Crete. Kazakh interest ALMATY, Kazakhstan – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev yesterday expressed interest in taking part in a project to transport Kazakh oil to Greece if Kazakhstan were included as an equal partner in the consortium including Russia, Bulgaria and Greece which is to construct a pipeline from the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis on the Aegean. «We would want to have the same ownership as the other countries in this project,» he said. (AFP) The OECD also questioned the government’s goal of a 0.8-percent budget surplus set for this year, saying that limited success in controlling spending could lead to a surplus of just 0.5 percent of GDP. It suggested that a tighter fiscal policy would be more productive in controlling inflation and reducing public debt while a larger budget surplus would help alleviate some of the pressures connected to future pension expenditure.