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PM Chairs Meeting On Tourism

The results of the 2009 tourism season were higher than expected, Tourism Minister Kostas Markopoulos said after having attended a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis with representatives of the tourism sector on 1 September.

“The challenges for tourism are continuing and next year will not be easier but the result was higher than expected…I believe this creates a very good scene,” said Mr. Markopoulos.

Representatives from the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels and the Hellenic Hotel Federation attended the prime minister’s meeting.

During the meeting proposals for structural reforms and measures to support the tourism economy were submitted to the prime minister by SETE’s president, Nikos Angelopoulos.

In regards to structural reforms, Mr. Angelopoulos insisted that the coordination of the government’s work on tourism should be undertaken by a person or body directly guided and controlled by the Prime Minister himself.

He also refered to support measures for tourism and highlighted the priority to increase the liquidity of firms (with financial support from banks in the form of government bonds) and to subsidize the working months of September and October.

“Our tourism is expected to recover as of 2011 and onwards but of course that depends primarily on the strong economic recovery in Europe,” Mr. Angelopoulos said.

Commenting on the 2009 tourism season, the president of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, Gerassimos Fokas, mentioned that this year’s tourism losses would amount to two billion euros if the positive scenario that sees a 10 percent drop in tourism traffic is verified.

Mr. Fokas proposed 12 measures of institutional intervention for the tourism sector.

“Given the current economic crisis that has an impact on all sectors of Greece’s economy, we chose to retain institutional intervention measures that are directly feasible and are without financial cost,” he said.

The package of measures proposed by the chamber refers to institutional modernization, organizational issues and public administration, employment support, and support of the liquidity of tourism enterprises.

Mr. Fokas also called for the immediate removal of restrictions due to the cabotage law for cruise ships and the developent of the Piraeus Port into a hub for international cruise.

As for employment support measures, Mr. Fokas called for the government to subsidize the months of September and October for seasonal hotels.

Editor’s note: The meeting chaired by PM Kostas Karamanlis took place prior to the announcement of the 4 October Parliamentary elections.

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