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Panagiotis Bamides

Panagiotis Bamides, President, Macedonia-Thrace, Travel Agencies AssociationPresident,
Macedonia-Thrace Travel Agencies Association

Philoxenia 2003 greeting.

This year has been one of the most difficult periods for global tourism and, of course, for our country. These difficulties brought our tourism weaknesses to the surface, not the least of which is the offer of cut-rate prices in exchange for last-minute bookings. This also showed that we must introduce the ‘satellite accounts’ method for tourism statistics.

This would give us the opportunity to accurately imprint the overall contribution of tourism to the national economy and to compare the annual arrival and monetary variations from every geographical region. It would also assist in convincing government quarters to initiate proper tourism planning.

Meanwhile, a big part of the tourism development expected by Northern Greece is closely related to the visitors we’re trying to attract from countries in the wider Balkan and ex-Soviet Union area. However, unless something is done to ease problems concerning tourism visas, particularly concerning the Schengen agreement, this dynamic and vital market will be lost to us. Countries like Italy, Spain and France have managed to confront the problem and steadily increase arrivals. There is no reason why we can’t do as much and more.

The time-consuming and complex visa procedure dissuades thousands of people from visiting our country and indirectly leads them to competing countries where they’ll spend an average of 1,500 dollars each.

In the end, the basic concern of the tourism leadership must center on analyzing the global market. And this must be followed by a timely interpretation of signs, the systematic and organized promotion of tourism, and on the development of crises management mechanisms.

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