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Tourism industry to see growth in 2007 December 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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Tourism industry to see growth in 2007, despite strong euro

Greek tourism, a pillar of the country’s economy, is expected to grow for a third consecutive year in 2007, despite the strong euro, an industry official said yesterday. Greece has been cashing in on a major lift in its image following the 2004 Olympic Games.

“The signs for 2007 are positive… It seems we could have a rise for a third year,” Stavros Andreadis, head of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE), told Reuters in an interview.

SETE has forecast a rise of around 8 percent in tourist arrivals this year, with more than 14 million tourists visiting Greece. Tourist arrivals were 7.2 percent up from a year ago in January-October, compared with a 5.6 percent rise in 2005, and the trend is set to continue.

Tourism accounts for about 18 percent of Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) and roughly one in five jobs. The economy is expected to grow close to 4 percent in 2006, making it one of the fastest growing in the eurozone.

Andreadis said Greek tourism companies should use aggressive advertising and develop better products to stop the euro’s recent strength versus the dollar hitting their competitiveness.

“The euro is becoming more and more expensive versus the dollar. This means that all our competitors outside the eurozone, including Turkey, Egypt, the Caribbean and Asia, are becoming cheaper,” Andreadis said.

The euro has risen nearly 12 percent against the US dollar this year. It is currently trading at around $1.32. Andreadis also said Greece should try to enrich its offerings to remain a top tourist destination.

“Instead of a having a tourist stay at a simple hotel and paying basic rates, they could come (to Greece) and enjoy a cruise, a cultural tour, a spa or sailing,” Andreadis said. “Those are sophisticated, more complex tourism packages that produce higher financial benefits.”

He also said some of Greece’s regional airports need a major revamp, adding: “It is unacceptable for the island of Crete, one of Greece’s top tourist destinations, to have such a depressing airport.”

Christmas abroad is tempting December 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Lifestyle, Tourism.
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The number of Greeks choosing to spend Christmas or New Year’s abroad has risen by up to 40 percent compared to last year, travel agents said yesterday, amid concerns about a downturn in business for domestic resorts.

One of the key factors driving the increase is that foreign package deals are competitively priced in comparison to what is on offer in Greece.

“Europe has become cheaper than Greece,” travel agent Vangelis Bivolaris said. “Our peak season is short, so hoteliers try and make as much money as they can during the winter holidays.”

Bivolaris said that it is impossible to find a room at one of Greece’s ski centers for less than euro120 a night during Christmas.

These hotels are currently around 90 percent full but hoteliers from surrounding areas are worried about the lack of bookings for the post-holiday period.

“We have customers for the holidays but we have nothing after that,” said guesthouse owner Emilia Georgakopoulou. “The weather has not helped.”

Christmas wishes December 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture.
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Athens Mayor Theodoros Behrakis is due to open the Land of Wishes in Kotzia Square in the city center today.

The ceremony is due to take place at 1 p.m., after which youngsters will be able to visit the Workshop of Wishes to design Christmas cards and obtain special stamps which they can use to post their holiday wishes.

More information is available on www.christmasinathens.gr or by calling 195.