Development Minister Agrees To Formation Of Private Company To Promote Greece
Once again, the Hellenic Tourism Organization was unable to get its tourism advertising program off the ground as scheduled. Instead of last October, the organization got its 31-million-euro (10.6 billion drachmas) program for 2002 off the ground in mid January with television ads and will begin the full-fledged program on February 15.
Perhaps the tardiness will prove a boon since Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos now says he is in favor of the creation of an independent company run under private management criteria. Such a unit, he said, would be controlled by both the public and private sector (owned by advertising firms and the tourism organization) and that it would be set up and running by this autumn.
The company’s job would be to undertake the planning and execution of the country’s tourism advertising campaigns at home and abroad. (He clarified that the organization’s offices abroad would concentrate on “diplomatic tourism” activities rather than advertising responsibilities.)
This, however, is a far cry from what local tourism professionals had hoped for. Most want a private company, with shares owned by the state and the trade in general, to undertake all advertising and promotion activities. The private sector has said in the past that it would match any sum the state would budget for tourism promotion and advertising provided that a private company managed these funds.
Meanwhile, the Panhellenic Hotel Federation Tourism says without a strong ad campaign any increase in arrivals to Greece from the country’s major markets, Germany and the United Kingdom, is not ensured.
Generally, tourists from these countries book their holidays in the months of January and February. As well, because of the present crisis competition is expected to be especially strong this year.
And that is exactly the reason the state has allocated a budget of 31.1 million euros for advertising and promoting Greece globally this year, said Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who announced the ad budget last month. He said the amount is a 77-percent against last year.
The outlay also includes a subsidy of 40 euros for incoming off-season tourists given to foreign tour operators, which is expected to cost a total of 4.4 million euros, and another 1.5 million euros for coop advertising.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also stressed that over the next three years the government’s tourism promotion policy will be directed toward three levels: 2004 and the general Athens area (Attica), Greek tourism and Greece. As well, he said 44 million euros has been allocated by the ministry of culture for the “Olympic Games and Attica” advertising package.