NEWS

Ministry in big drive for tourism

Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos yesterday called on representatives of the tourism sector to contribute to a campaign to offset the damage caused to the Greek tourism sector by street protests and to emphasize the country’s assets. A new advertising campaign, dubbed «You in Greece,» is to be launched next week along with a media offensive, providing statistics to help journalists better report on the state of Greek tourism. Another goal is to appeal to the Greek diaspora to visit and support the Greek tourism sector, which accounts for some 20 percent of gross domestic product. The Greek National Tourism Organization is already making efforts to promote holidays in Greece. One of these is an exhibition at Harrods department store in London called «2010 reasons to visit Greece.» Meanwhile philhellenes and high-ranking officials in international tourism have been doing their best to help the cause. Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization, called for industry solidarity with Greece, which he called «one of the most important destinations in the world and a point of reference for us all.» «Letting down the tourism sector in Greece would only contribute to accelerate the current difficulties,» he said. In Germany, where negative publicity about Greece has been fervent, a representative of tour operator Thomas Cook told Die Welt that the situation in Greece is not all bad, with bookings up by 10 percent on the island of Kos and prices down by 20 percent. In a related development, Markus Tressel, a German Green Party deputy, called on Germans «not to turn their backs on this alluring country due to fears of unrest in its capital.»