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Greek exports post new growth March 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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The rise in Greek exports continued last year, with their value increasing from 14,050 million euro in 2005 to 16,652 million euro in 2006, growth of 18.5 percent, according to the Panhellenic Exporters’ Association (PSE).

However, the latest PSE analysis shows a remarkable change among the most important exporting markets for Greece. Germany, which throughout the postwar period has remained at the top of the list, nearly lost its first place as exports to Italy in 2005 grew by 26 percent, while those to Germany increased by just 7 percent. Turkey rose to the sixth spot from 11th in 2005, while the USA fell to eighth position after spending all of the 1990s in fourth spot. Slovenia, now an EU member, shot up from the 50th to the 19th position among exporting markets, with exports of 201 million.

Generally, exports increased toward all geographical regions, except for low exports to Africa (0.6 percent of the total) and to Southeast Asia (1.3 percent). Exports to North American countries remained stable. The most impressive growth is to the 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004, which soared from 1,070.3 million to 1,521.6 million year-on-year, a 42.2 percent rise. Consequently, these markets now account for 9.1 percent of Greek exports.

The prospect of EU entry also boosted exports to Bulgaria and Romania in 2006, just before the two countries joined the bloc: Exports to Bulgaria grew by 28.8 percent, to 1,052.5 million, and those to Romania by 45.7 percent, to 596 million.

Exports to emerging markets grew by 22.5 percent. Slovenia posted a leading rise of 431.1 percent, followed by Algeria (342.6 percent), Croatia (140 percent), Israel (115.3 percent) and Russia (60 percent), although in most cases this concerns exports of raw materials and fuel.

The export of raw materials may have grown by 53.5 percent, but still cover a small percentage of overall export value (6.4 percent), while fuel grew by 64.1 percent, accounting for 13 percent of all exports (2,148.5 million).

Other major categories of exports recorded some growth but remained below the average rate: Industrial products grew by 11.6 percent, shrinking to 57.9 percent of the total, and farming products increased by 9.6 percent, falling from 21.6 percent in 2005 to 20 percent last year.

Entering cruise schedules offers multiple benefits March 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Cruises.
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Major cruise ships visiting Greece can add to the country’s benefits in many more ways than just the direct revenue from passengers spending in ports, according to HATTA President Yiannis Evangelou.

Greece is one of the most attractive cruise destinations in the Mediterranean, but does not reap the benefits it deserves from one of the most rapidly developing tourism industries in the world, says the President of the Hellenic Tourism and Travel Agencies (HATTA), Yiannis Evangelou.

Evangelou suggests that at least 70 destinations in this country could attract cruise ships. It is encouraging that this season, besides the entry of cruisers that have included Greece in their schedules, six cruise companies, including three Greek ones, will make return cruises to Greek destinations.

The European Cruise Contribution predicts that by 2010 investment in the cruise sector in Europe will reach 12.7 billion euro, while 17 million tourists will visit European destinations every year. Cruise passengers in the last decade have increased by as much as 252 percent.

Cruising internationally attracts more than 14 million tourists every year. Some 3.2 million of them come from the European market. The main source of cruise tourists is the US, whose market has reached 9.1 million people per year. In Europe the biggest market is the British one, which has exceeded 1 million tourists per year. In Greece, though, cruising ranks low in people’s preferences as only 14,000 Greeks choose cruising as their preferred form of tourism.

A recent survey has shown that the contribution of cruising to the US economy in 2005 came to $32.4 billion. The sector supported more than 330,000 jobs on a national level and paid $13.5 billion to US citizens employed in the sector.

Cruise companies, including passengers and crews, consumed a total of $16.2 billion in US goods and services. Direct spending supported about 143,000 jobs and secured $5.2 billion in salaries paid. Sector data show that 19 companies in North America will this season operate a total of 43 cruisers. All these companies will ship 700,000 passengers to the Mediterranean.

Palma de Majorca is one of the main cruise ports in Spain. Over the course of the last decade it saw an increase of visiting cruise passengers from 167,000 to 860,000, a 413 percent rise, while its revenues from cruising exceeded 70 million in 2005. Barcelona only had 133,000 visitors from cruises, and in 2005 it reached 1,222,000 visitors, a staggering 920 percent rise.

Evangelou suggests that the cruising sector is an economic activity that is emerging as a major source of income for a great number of professionals, such as port agents, travel agents, guides, taxis, shops, museums, wholesale traders etc. The HATTA president explains that for every average-sized cruise ship, with 800-1,000 passengers, the mooring costs come to 8-10,000, while at islands such as Santorini, where the assistance of small boats is required, the costs double.

Some 40-45 percent of passengers go on guided tours costing between 10,000 and 12,000. Another 40-45 percent tour the destinations privately, spending directly on the local economy, as do passengers in organized activities. The average personal spending at ports by each of those passengers comes to 20-30 for Europeans and 90-100 for Americans. Other revenues include spending by the crews and supplying cruise ships with drinkable water and fresh products.

Besides the flow of revenues for every local economy when a cruise ship approaches, there are also indirect benefits for destinations. Very often, cruise passengers return to the ports they have visited in the context of a cruise to spend vacation in some of the places they liked and also recommend those places to others. The entry of a destination on an international cruise schedule automatically brings advertising exposure in the most important tourism markets, paid by the cruise company.

Furthermore, permanently making a destination part of international cruise schedules also makes ports attract other profitable forms of sea tourism, too.

Greece at Moscow Travel Show March 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia is today officially opening the Greek stand at the ITM Intourmarket Moscow Tourism and Travel Exhibition, which begins today and lasts until Saturday, with Greece as the honored country.

After the signing of the agreement for the Greek-Russian-Bulgarian oil pipeline linking Burgas with Alexandroupolis, Greece is expecting a rise in tourism from Russia, with authorities expecting 250,000 Russians to visit in 2007, up 30 percent from last year.

Greek Intralot in IT lottery project Down Under March 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Greece’s Intralot, the world’s second-largest lottery systems supplier, said yesterday it had successfully completed an IT lottery project in New Zealand.

Intralot, which is also the world’s largest sports betting operator, said its New Zealand subsidiary had connected 20,256 gaming machines and 1,000 jackpot controllers to a new electronic system which monitors all video slot machines in the country. Via the new system, the New Zealand government can monitor all bets via video slot machine and crack down on illegal betting.

Greeks hesitant about their online purchases March 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web.
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Greeks remain hesitant about making purchases over the Internet and avoid using various online services provided by the state, according to the latest annual study conducted by Information Society, a group supported by the country’s Development Ministry to promote high-tech ways.

The survey’s results, which cover the year 2006, indicated that just 5 percent of Internet users make purchases through online stores, while only 8 percent opted to use the state’s online service options, introduced to help relieve notorious delays at various government services.

The survey’s sample numbered 8,025 individuals representing households, companies, schools, doctors and electronic governance. This year’s study showed considerable year-to-year increases in household usage of the Internet and broadband connections.

Household Internet usage in Greece, the survey found, increased to 27.4 percent from 24.2 percent in 2005. Broadband connections in Greece represented 4.39 percent of connections in 2006, according to the survey.

Despite the increased Internet activity in Greek homes, household usage in the sector remains well below European averages, which stand at 51 percent for the EU-25 and 54 percent for the EU-15. The survey also reported drops in regular and ISDN connections, and DSL gains in the Greek market.

The Internet picture was largely unchanged in the business sector. The survey showed that 39 percent of firms that employ between one and nine persons and 92.5 percent of companies employing at least 10 individuals had Internet access. These figures, unchanged from 2005, were not far off EU average figures, both in terms of the EU-15 and EU-25.

Of the 8 percent of Greeks who log onto the Internet for state services, the endeavors concern gathering information from websites (7 percent), downloading official documents (4 percent), and submitting completed forms (3 percent).

The survey showed that 99 percent of schools are equipped with computers, while Internet usage rose slightly to 97 percent from 96 percent in 2005.

Eight-hour sleep has become just a dream March 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
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Only a quarter of people sleep the eight hours each night that doctors recommend, medical experts said yesterday, while emphasizing that children are going to bed later than ever.

The head of the Research Center for Sleep at the Evangelismos Hospital in Athens, Manos Vagiakis, said that figures from 1980 showed that 45 percent of people slept at least eight hours a day then. Only 25 percent of people sleep that much now, he said.

To mark World Sleep Day today, Vagiakis also revealed that 15 percent of people suffer from sleeping problems.

He said that one of the key problems is that children are increasingly staying up late. He said that 76 percent of boys and 64 percent of girls under the age of 15 go to bed after 11 p.m., more than double the figures in 1990.

Greeks all over the world to celebrate Independence Day March 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Special Features.
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Greeks all over the world, in Athens, in Nicosia, in Melbourne, in New York City, will celebrate Greece’s Independence Day on March 25.

Parades and speeches will mark a struggle which began early in the 19th century and continued well into the 20th, fueled by the desire of the Greek Nation to follow the traditions of self-government of the world’s first Democracy.

The 1821-1832 rebellion of Greeks within the Ottoman Empire resulted in the establishment of an independent Kingdom of Greece. The rebellion originated in the activities of the Philikí Etaireía, “Friendly Brotherhood”, a patriotic conspiracy founded in Odessa, now in Ukraine, in 1814. By that time the desire for some form of independence was common among Greeks of all classes whose Hellenism, or sense of Greek Nationality, had long been fostered by the Greek Orthodox Church, by the survival of the Greek language and by the administrative arrangements of the Ottoman Empire. Greeks’ economic progress and the impact of Western revolutionary ideas further intensified Hellenism.

The revolt began in March 1821 when Alexandros Ypsilantis, the leader of the Etairists, crossed the Prut River into Turkish-held Moldavia with a small force of troops. Ypsilantis was soon defeated by the Turks, but in the meantime, on March 25, 1821, the traditional date of Greek independence, sporadic revolts against Turkish rule had broken out in the Peloponnese, in Greece north of the Gulf of Corinth, and on several islands. It was on that date, March 25, when the Bishop Paleon Patron Germanos, blessed the flag at the Monastery of Agia Lavra, near today’s Kalavrita town. Within a year the rebels had gained control of the Peloponnese, and in January 1822 they declared the independence of Greece. The Turks attempted three times from 1822 to 1824 to invade the Peloponnese but were unable to retrieve the area.

Internal rivalries, however, prevented the Greeks from extending their control and from firmly consolidating their position in the Peloponnese. In 1823 civil war broke out between the War of Independence leader Theódoros Kolokotrónis and Geórgios Kountouriótis, who was Head of the Government that had been formed in January 1822 but was forced to flee to the island of Hydra in December 1822. After a second civil war in 1824, Kountouriótis was firmly established as leader, but his government and the entire revolution were gravely threatened by the arrival of Egyptian forces led by Ibrahim Pash, which had been sent to aid the Turks in 1825. With the support of Egyptian sea power, the Ottoman forces successfully invaded the Peloponnese, captured Messolonghi in April 1826, the town of Athens in August 1826 and the Acropolis in June 1827.

The Greek cause, however, was saved by the intervention of the European powers. Favoring the formation of an autonomous Greek State, they offered to mediate between the Turks and the Greeks in 1826 and 1827. When the Turks refused, Great Britain, France, and Russia sent their naval fleets to Navarino, where on October 20, 1827, they destroyed the Egyptian fleet. Although this severely crippled the Ottoman forces, the war continued, complicated by the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29. In 1828 a small, independent Greek State was formed with 800,000 inhabitants. It was a penniless state of extremely small size, consisting of the Peloponnese, Central Greece and the Cyclades. It would take another century of struggle before all the Greeks were freed.

A Greco-Turkish settlement was finally determined by the European powers. At a conference in London, they adopted a protocol on February 3, 1830, declaring Greece an independent monarchical state under their protection. By mid-1832 the northern frontier of the new state had been set along the line extending from south of Volos to south of Arta; Prince Otto of Bavaria had accepted the crown and the Turkish sultan had recognized Greek independence and signed the Treaty of Constantinople in July 1832.

The first man to govern the country was a Greek former Minister of the Tsar, Ioannis Kapodistrias. His first task was to organize the state, its internal administration, the army, the questions of the National territories and independence and the border question. However, his clash with the local aristocracy provoked intense reactions which led to his assassination in 1831 in Nafplion, which at that time was the first capital of Greece.

The 19th century was a long and trying time for the Greeks. It was a period during which Greek society, through myriad difficulties, was trying to define its National image and bring about its National fulfillment. The liberality and democracy of the first Greek Constitutions were replaced by an absolute monarchy guided by foreigners. In 1843 Otto, under popular pressure, granted a conservative Constitution (1844) which, however, was often ignored. Otto was finally driven out of the country in 1862.

With the Constitution of 1864 the regime of a constitutional monarchy was established. The new King was George I, a scion of the Danish Dynasty of the Glucksburgs. In the same year, the Ionian islands were united with Greece and progressive political customs and organized social frameworks for Greece’s political and social life introduced.

There was relative calm during the period that ensued up to the end of the century. Political battles were often relegated to the Chamber of Deputies while public opinion was more occupied by National and Balkan affairs. These were the Cretan Revolution of 1866-69; the establishment of a Bulgarian Church that was independent of the Patriarchate, the Bulgarian Hexarchy of 1870, and which, in turn, created a Macedonian problem when the limits of its authority had to be defined; the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-88 and the rise of panslavism; the establishment of a large Bulgarian state which stretched into Greek Macedonia by the Treaty of San Stefano in 1878, the invasion of Thessaly by the Greek army and its annexation in 1881 and new uprisings in Epirus and Crete.

The new ideology which took root in the decade of the 1840s and which dictated Greece’s foreign policy for a long time was the concept of the Megali Idea, “Great Idea”. It aimed at freeing all the Greeks who were still under the Ottoman yoke and creating a greater Greece. It started as an ideology of the urban middle and lower-middle classes, passed through various phases and several ups and downs before becoming at the beginning of the following century the ideology of the urban upper class, acting as an inspiration for the liberation of enslaved Greeks and ending, finally, in national disasters and most acute internal conflicts.

Related Links > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_War_of_Independence