Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura invited US President Barak Obama to spend his next holidays in Greece, during the dinner held in his honor in Athens earlier this week.
Kountoura insisted the US president visit Greece with his family and then conveyed his immediate response via her twitter account: “Barak Obama chooses Greece for his holidays following an invitation by Greece’s tourism minister.” The American president told Minister Kountoura that he was now expecting recommendations in order to plan his vacation to Greece.
During his Athens visit this week, Obama repeatedly expressed his admiration for Greece, its people and its history. While touring the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum, which the US president described as a “childhood dream come true”, Obama shared his feelings and thoughts via a video released by the White House.
“It is here in Athens that so many ideas about democracy, our notions of citizenship, our notions of the rule of law, began to develop… we have learned from them… we view ourselves as part of a broader humanity”, he said while standing in front of the Parthenon.
In his speech at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) later on Wednesday, Obama sent out an even stronger message of support and one directly related to tourism and travel.
“I want to thank you for your warm and generous welcome. As many of you know, this is my final trip overseas as President of the United States, and I was determined, on my last trip, to come to Greece — partly because I’ve heard about the legendary hospitality of the Greek people — your philoxenia. Partly because I had to see the Acropolis and the Parthenon. But also because I came here with gratitude for all that Greece — ‘this small, great world’ — has given to humanity through the ages.”
Meanwhile, the tourism industry welcomed Obama’s visit to Greece with the President of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Andreas Andreadis thanking him via twitter for his positive contribution to Greek tourism. “An opportunity tonight to thank President Obama. During his presidency, arrivals of Americans to Greece doubled.”
Yiannis Retsos, chairman of the Hellenic Hotel Federation, underlined the significance of Obama’s visit to Greek tourism, tweeting that it is “a powerful sign… sending out the message across the globe that Greece is a safe and unique destination”.