Picking up the pace

Picking up the pace

Agreeing to the term for the sake of convenience, no matter how much it may irk certain circles, Greece is a “brand” with a solid international reputation. It is important to remember that Greece emerged from the devastation of World War II to become a prosperous country in spite of all the persistent structural weaknesses and problems that we, as Greeks, know all too well. Greece today is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with a name that brings positive thoughts to people’s minds and good prospects for a bright future.

It is shocking that we tolerate the state of Larissis, the biggest intercity train station in the country, without a murmur

That said, the growth of tourism comes hand in hand with dangers that are already visible. A country’s image and operations need to be constantly tended and improved. Despite significant progress with its highway system and airports, Greece has a long way to go – and it is facing stiff competition from rival destinations.

There are four key areas where Greece is seriously lagging: transportation infrastructure, road safety, the natural environment and historical legacy. And it is not just lagging the original members of the European Union, but also the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. With the exception of the Balkans, all the others are making greater strides in these areas than we are. Let us just look back to the situation in 1995 and consider the fact that Greece has been a member of the European family for 42 years. It is clear that we must face some unpleasant truths.

It is shocking, for example, that we tolerate the state of Larissis, the biggest intercity train station in the country, without a murmur, as we do dozens of other stations across the country while we wait for the railway system to be brought up to international standards. The intercity bus station is another abomination, though a new terminal is in the pipeline. Every point of arrival into Greece cities is a disappointment.

The way we drive in Greece also has us firmly relegated to Third World status. All we need to do is listen to what visitors have to say about the situation. Some can hardly believe their eyes at the pure anarchy they encounter on Greek roads. The natural landscape is treated like tourism’s goldmine, our cities need a radical overhaul and our architectural legacy is regarded as a backdrop for pretty photos. The true value of these elements has not sunken in and the growth of tourism cannot hide the truth: There’s a lot of work to be done and we need to reconsider our priorities. 

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