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New Strategy and Changes in Greek Tourism Sector

After the change of the tourism minister in January, the president of the Greek National Tourism Organization, Athanasios Oikonomou, resigned from his post and was replaced by Yiannis Kofinis.

Also, newly appointed Tourism Development Minister Kostas Markopoulos abolished the secretary general position of the GNTO in an attempt to reduce bureaucracy on various issues.

All responsibilities are now subjected to the organization’s president.

Mr. Markopoulos also selected Meletios Tzaferis as the new secretary general of the tourism ministry. He replaces Spyros Efstathopoulos, now secretary general of investment and development for the ministry of economy and finance.

Meanwhile, according to reports, the minister has begun to implement a new strategy to tackle Greek tourism issues with targeted actions and a stronger approach to communications.

At a recent press conference Tourism Minister Kostas Markopoulos informed journalists that “the battle for Greece’s tourism development would last until the end of the year.

“For the promotion of Greece’s tourism product, the tourism ministry will invest 50 percent of efforts to strengthen domestic tourism, and 50 percent to promote the country’s image abroad,” said Mr. Markopoulos.

Meletios Tzaferis, new secretary general of the tourism ministry; Kostas Markopoulos, tourism minster; and Emmanuel Alexandrakis, special secretary to the ministry, during the press conference.

Meletios Tzaferis, new secretary general of the tourism ministry; Kostas Markopoulos, tourism minster; and Emmanuel Alexandrakis, special secretary to the ministry, during the press conference.

He reconfirmed Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis’ announcement that a 50 percent increase will be included in Greece’s advertising promotion abroad. However, the minister ascertained Greece’s advertising campaign will proceed with the same logo and slogan promoted by the previous leadership.

“We have taken it over and we will continue it,” he said.

The minister said that his first objective is the immediate implementation of the 14 support measures for tourism announced by the prime minister in December. He said that legislation for the aforementioned goes before parliament by the end of February.

Out of the 14 measures the first one to be dealt with is the reduction of the sojourn tax from two percent to 0.5 percent.

As well, the legislation includes the conversion of the hotel chamber into a tourism chamber, a change agreed upon by hoteliers.

The minister said that any establishment that bears the GNTO’s certification emblem would be included within the tourism chamber.

Also discussed at the press conference was the ministry’s intention to strengthen the GNTO offices abroad and give them a stable institutional framework for further effective action.

The minister mentioned that in the near future new GNTO offices are to be set up in future markets to Greece. Namely, in South Africa, as the country will host the World Cup in 2010 and “Greece cannot be absent from this occasion” and Poland, which may be able to withstand the present economic crisis.
He also mentioned the creation of a GNTO office in the Ukraine since the country has special religious ties with Greece, and India.

In addition, the minister announced that he intends to invest in Greece’s brand name by offering support to the popular Eurovision contest.

“Eurovision has become an institution that has been accepted by all of Europe and Greece must be there,” he said.

As for Greece’s online presence, the minister announced that soon a new portal would be introduced.

About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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