OPINION

Greece on strategic vacation

While Greece’s hotel owners have forecast a reduction in tourist arrivals of some 6 percent, the country’s eastern neighbor Turkey is seeing a spectacular increase: In the first quarter of 2008, the number of foreign visitors jumped by 15 percent. The high value of the euro is not the only factor. Another reason is that Greece has failed to build the necessary infrastructure to exploit the wave of foreign visitors that traveled here in the wake of the successful 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The truth is that Greece cannot compete with Turkey in terms of prices. But it can certainly compete with the entire Balkan peninsula in terms of infrastructure and services. In fact, this could become Greece’s comparative advantage. In order to achieve this goal, Greece needs to make a sustained, painstaking effort rather than taking piecemeal measures. Greece’s tourism industry can flourish. All it takes is a good plan, common sense and an environmentally friendly approach.