Recent rumors and press reports that center on the major reconstruction of the government’s tourism mechanism leave many with their imagination running wild. (See “Gigantic Government ‘Tourism Machine’ Planned” on page 7.) On the one hand, changes in the lethargic running of the Hellenic Tourism Organization are imperative, and the tourism ministry does require some semblance of permanency, complete with professional staff.
On the other, however, past experience has shown that most – not all, the fairly new Citizens Assistance Centers is an example – government services are laden down with an excess of employees. And perhaps worse, a good number of government employees are under-trained for the positions they hold. An over active imagination could see the new tourism machine as one clogged down with personnel, and not the proposed well-oiled one that would execute government tourism policies with pride and precision.
Such a “machine” would not only make our tourism sector somewhat unique within the realm of public service, but also it would ensure that Greece’s most important economic sector, tourism, would flourish as it so rightly deserves.
A wonderful thought, but our mind quickly goes back to several years ago when we had dreamed of great government plans for a sleek, well-run tourism organization that would concentrate on tourism promotion. And of regional authorities that would control their tourism sector and ensure that tourism enterprises would no longer waste precious time running back and forth to Athens for operational permits and investment project approvals.
The present government, which continually announces tourism as its priority, has an opportunity to extinguish our many doubts and to place Greek tourism on the level it deserves with qualified professionals executing tourism policy.
We at GTP, in addition, believe that the very first target of the government’s new tourism mechanism should be the creation of a Greek tourism products, services and resources database. One where specific and up-to-date information could be distributed to tourism professionals around the world: Professionals who today receive next to nothing with a visit to Hellenic Tourism Organization offices.