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Tourism Minister: Greece a 'safe and welcoming destination'

Olga Kefalogianni

Greece's image abroad has improved tremendously and it can now be said that the country is a safe and welcoming tourist destination, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said early on Wednesday (Greek time), following a presentation at the Greek Consulate in New York City.

At the event for Greek-American travel officials, Kefalogianni said that the government was dedicated to improving tourism infrastructure and Greek attitude to tourists.

Among the topics she reviewed were the efforts focused on providing direct US-Greece flights and the problems created by strikes, especially when they affect archaeological and tourist sights.

Her US visit, she told ANA-MPA, "completes a contacts cycle that began eleven months ago to all markets of interest to Greek tourism." She noted the importance of the Greek-American community in this effort and concluded that she is "quite optimistic and happy with what we have achieved in this time - we managed to reverse the very negative image of Greece, therefore see a great recovery of Greek tourism in 2013."

Asked about improving "anti-tourism behaviour" in Greece, she responded: "Besides the fact that Greeks are born with the sense of filoxenia (traditional Greek hospitality) and exhibit great warmth to their visitors, these past few years they have realized that tourism is not simply a seasonal occupation but a sector on which the Greek economy may rest, especially at local level." She said a campaign starting next week will promote that "tourism sensitivity and culture."

Kefalogianni met at ABC TV network with Greek-American journalist George Stephanopoulos and is scheduled to meet with other American media today, Wednesday.

On Thursday she will pay a working visit to Toronto, Canada, where she will remain until Saturday, promoting Greek tourism with local sector officials and giving interviews at large Canadian media.

She will also attend the annual Hellenic Heritage Foundation event. The Greek-Canadian nonprofit is presenting its Lifetime Achievement Award to Mike Lazaridis, founder and vice chairman of BlackBerry, the wireless handheld company.

Source: Athens News Agency

Last Updated Thursday, 06 June 2013
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