OPINION

Promoting tourism

The self-imposed audit of the country’s public finances is complete and the fiscal picture is now clear. Unfortunately, so are the data depicting the production base of the Greek economy. What they reveal is a feeble foundation which is incapable of supporting exports, producing competitive goods, or of raising a barrier to the flow of imports that are feeding domestic consumption. Faced with such a grim situation, the government must hammer out an effective development plan which will strengthen the productive economy, encourage investment and channel funds into more promising and dynamic sectors. To be sure, that presupposes the consent of rival political factions and key financial players – but it nevertheless remains a government duty. And, to be frank, it’s a tough one. On the one hand, circumstances leave no room for further foot-dragging or time-consuming and pointless arguments over the actual state of the economy – like the recent debate on the budget. We cannot get away with improvised measures or piecemeal solutions. This time, we need polices that are inspired by a long-term development plan. Drawing up such a plan would take time, hence the government should start with tourism. It is a sector where Greece already has huge potential and considerable infrastructure. It is also enjoying the great tonic of a successful Olympic Games, whose gains could evaporate should sluggishness persist. Promoting our tourism industry requires serious and far-sighted planning based on renowned figures whose presence alone is evidence of a serious approach. Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis should follow the example of his uncle, the late prime minister Constantine Karamanlis, who in the 1960s entrusted the tourism sector to people like Dimitris Pikionis and Aris Constantinidis, who left their mark on programs and projects that were the pride of the Greek tourism industry, like the Xenia hotels, but which were later allowed to crumble. Tourism is a direct source of revenue and a sector with a major impact on the rest of the economy. Hence the government must invest in beautiful and environment-friendly projects. It needs long-term planning which will project a new image of Greece to the world in a campaign highlighting all aspects, from beautiful seas and magical landscapes to the scattered signs of a civilization that has been around for 3,000 years. Rejuvenating tourism should be the first step that will could point the way for the other sectors of the economy.