NEWS

Inadequate promotion of events

As London taxi drivers are attending seminars in order to be able to distinguish Tate Modern from Tate Britain, Athens is dozing by comparison, said the Dutch director of the Hilton Hotel, Bart van de Winkel. «I often think that if the GNTO is to become more effective, it should have private partners, just as its counterpart in the Netherlands does. That way there are incentives for sales and activity. In Athens, very important things are going on but they are hidden away like secrets. Take for example the exhibition of paper clothing at the Benaki. It was wonderful but it was not advertised abroad as much as it should have been. I have rarely seen foreign journalists invited to cover the Hellenic Festival in depth, for example. If a foreigner reads about the Herod Atticus Theater three times in the Financial Times, he’ll want to come. It would be better to have a campaign on YouTube than on CNN; it will be seen by more people,» he suggested. «The events calendar is drawn up at the last minute and no one has time to plan properly. You often make visitors’ lives more difficult without realizing it – the museums, archaeological sites, galleries and shops in the center should be open all the time, even at weekends, but they are either closed or there are strikes or protest marches.» The Hilton’s director believes that contemporary culture is not being promoted by the advertising campaigns. «Everything is sea, sun and beaches; those are the priorities. But everyone knows about those things. That’s why you keep getting tourists who want to go to the islands carrying rucksacks. Take the example of Barcelona, which, until they held the Olympics, used to attract low-budget British tourists. Now it has become one of the most interesting cultural destinations among higher-income brackets for its architecture, food and culture. If Greece invests in culture, it can change both its image and the kind of tourists it attracts.»