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Greece Eyes Closer Ties With Israel

The concept of Greece is changing from that of a simple destination to that of a country where the visitor can live unique experiences, Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos said last month at the 17th International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The minister’s visit to Tel Aviv was to maintain the rising trend in the tourism flow from Israel to Greece. According to reports, during the January-September 2010 period, arrivals from Israel increased by 146.5 percent year-on-year, amounting to 171,823.

During his speech, Mr. Geroulanos presented the ministry’s initiative “Thessaloniki Cultures Crossroads,” which sees Greece’s second largest city hosting a geographical region every year for five years. The first culture to be featured in Thessaloniki will be the Middle East, Israel included.

The culture and tourism minister also emphasized the great opportunities expected to arise in the cruise sector after the recent lifting of cabotage restrictions for non-European Union flag cruiseships.

Moshe Mano, owner and president of Israeli cruise line Mano Maritime, informed Mr. Geroulanos on his plans to include the Thessaloniki Port on the itinerary of one of his cruiseships during the major events of the “Thessaloniki Cultures Crossroads.”

Also, in a meeting with Israel’s tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov, Mr. Geroulanos discussed the prospect of setting up joint tour packages from the emerging markets of the East (India, China, Japan) where the interest for the Greek region is escalating.

The two ministers also decided to set up a tourism committee between the two countries. The committee’s first convergence is scheduled to be held in Thessaloniki this autumn.

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