Greece working on improving image, says minister

Greece is working on improving its international image in its efforts to sustain ties with traditional tourism markets while working on new ones, said Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni speaking on Skai on Thursday.

Kefaloyianni noted that efforts, for instance, were being made with respect to two long-standing tourism markets, Germany and Britain.

?When it comes to Germany we have an image problem which goes both ways,? said Kefaloyianni, who added that Greece would undoubtedly find itself at the epicenter of comments made by German politicians as part of the country?s pre-election activity. «Unfortunately this affects our work and whatever campaign, whatever efforts we make to improve our image, everything is affected by the general framework,» she added.

Meanwhile international tourism figures are picking up said the minister, who noted that although a bleak forecast in the beginning of the year followed by two rounds of general elections had rendered the situation extremely difficult, activity was on the rise.

Kefaloyianni, who noted that 2012 should not be treated as a lost year but as an oppportunity for more targeted action, said she is set to visit Germany later this month and meet with German officials. At the same time the ministry is working on facilitating access for visitors traveling to Greece from countries such as Russia and Ukraine, while working on developing business with countries including China, India and Brazil.

On the issue of domestic tourism, a sector which has collapsed due to the ongoing recession, Kefaloyianni noted that the ministry recently reintroduced a social tourism program aimed at over 80,000 eligible applicants.