OPINION

Tourist treatment

A few days ago at the airport of a tourist-frequented island, the passengers on a regular flight from Athens had to wait, after their arrival, stuck inside the plane. They were told that their long – as it turned out – delay was due to the arrival at the same time of three charter flights from abroad and that the airport only had a single bus for the transfer of passengers from the aircraft to the terminal. In other words, although the flight was on time, the visitors were delayed because they had to wait for the bus. Apparently, this was not an isolated incident. After the Pentecost holiday, Kathimerini received phone calls from ship passengers who disembarked at the port of Piraeus only to find that there was only a one bus to serve hundreds of people. As a result, most had to cover the distance from the port on foot. How many of the plane passengers who landed on the Greek island or the foreign tourists who reached Piraeus were willing to forget the trouble, and how many of them shared their experiences with their friends? Very few, we suspect. We should not be surprised if such unfortunate incidents – along with cases of profiteering and poor service – spread by word of mouth, giving Greece a bad name for tourism and putting off those who think of visiting this country for their holidays. All this could easily be avoided. For it is not difficult to hire extra buses during the busy periods for the harbors or airports – especially when we are talking about the airport of a popular island destination or the capital’s main port. One realizes once again that significant issues, such as the promotion of Greece’s tourism – an important tonic for the domestic economy – do not just depend on reforms and institutional amendments but also upon more pedestrian issues, administrative effectiveness, the concern and the attentiveness of the responsible officials in each department and the ability of responsible officials and employees to spot omissions, cover the gaps, and avert troubles for visitors. During the Athens Olympic Games, this attention to detail and day-to-day operations will be crucial for promoting the country’s image as a popular tourist destination. We should not allow ourselves to relax even after the Games are over. A half-hour wait inside an aircraft or a 2-kilometer walk within the contours of the port are enough to taint the good memories of our beautiful beaches and villages, and to turn departing visitors from enthusiastic supporters of Greece into harsh critics.