To help visitors navigate classical ruins, Greece’s Culture Ministry unveiled a hand-held device that offers high-resolution video, site diagrams, position indicators and stereo sound.
The units, with instructions in Greek, English, German and French, will be available by summer 2008 at 15 sites, including the Acropolis in Athens, Delphi, Rhodes and Knossos in Crete. Rental prices have not yet been determined.
The Ministry also unveiled new automated ticketing systems for 18 tourist sites, designed to reduce waiting times.
Thessaloniki needs to promote its identity abroad to attract tourism, with the White Tower, the city’s landmark, as its most recognizable image.
Greece holds the top spot among 28 tourism destinations in the world with 67 percent of tourists saying that this country is the most attractive place for vacations, according to a survey by the German tour operator TUI, presented yesterday at the 11th Thessaloniki Forum.
The 2006 data, presented by TUI international relations director, Guenter Ihlau, showed that 70 percent of visitors to Greece come from Europe, with Germans, British and Italians comprising half of all tourists. Northern Greece, in particular, may have seen relatively few visitors in the 1995-2002 period, but rebounded with a 15 percent increase in 2003-2006.
Estimates by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), presented by British journalist Robert McDonald, showed that tourism contributed 34 billion euros or 17.5 percent to Greece’s gross domestic product. It also provided 16 percent of jobs. However, the long-term forecasts of the international organization show the arrivals growth rate slowing to 4 percent per year in the next decade.
“While Greece enjoys occupancy rates of 70 to 90 percent in the summer, neighboring Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Slovenia are competitive with rates between 40 and 50 percent. Already the basic clientele of Greece is turning toward those countries,” warned McDonald.
Crucially, considerable investments in Greek tourism are planned, he added, revealing that foreign investors are preparing projects worth a total 3.5 billion euros for the creation of resort complexes, while five foreign venture capital funds have penciled in another 1.5 billion euros for similar projects.
Ihlau, as well as easyJet head Stelios Hadji-Ioannou, urged Greece to turn to the construction of its brand, to become more recognizable and to diversify its tourism product on offer, placing emphasis on sustainable tourism development and infrastructures.
Hadji-Ioannou further proposed a lowering of airport tax in Greece, as this would immediately boost the number of arrivals, while announcing that easyCruise will operate a second cruise ship from Piraeus to the islands from next year. The new vessel will be twice as big as the one already operating, having 500 berths.
The head of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises, Stavros Andreadis, called for Thessaloniki to acquire an “identity” so as to become instantly recognizable abroad, as in Europe it is largely unknown.
Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia and the local tourism industry agreed at yesterday’s National Tourism Council that this year will see another rise. The Minister reiterated that Greece is expected to receive more tourists than ever before in 2007 and said that inflows of foreign exchange from tourism grew in May.
On the occasion of International Environment Day, Palli-Petralia asked hoteliers to show sensitivity regarding its protection: “Pollution kills tourism,” she said, announcing the establishment of a new award for hotels that use new energy forms and do not pollute the environment. The Minister will also propose that environmentally sensitive hotels also enjoy financial privileges, too.
Andreas Andreadis, the President of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers (POX), cited specific May data showing a general rise in occupancy. He said the Ionian Islands are full, Athens is going well and Thessaloniki is high in bookings. Only Crete is marginally lower than last year.
Inhalable insulin available on the Greek market June 6, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
About one in 10 Greeks suffering from diabetes will be able to obtain inhalable insulin at Greek pharmacies as of next Monday, doctors said yesterday. Until now, diabetes sufferers had to take their insulin intravenously.
The cost of the drug, to be sold in powder form, will be covered by the patient’s insurance fund.
This form of the drug may be used by patients with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The first cannot produce the hormone insulin, the second do not process their naturally produced insulin properly. The patient places the powder in a special inhaler device and breathes it in through the mouth. The cost of the device, 117 euros, will be paid by patients.
Inhalable insulin should not be used by smokers, those with breathing problems, pregnant women and minors, said Andreas Melidonis, head of the Tzanneio Hospital’s diabetes clinic.
Announcing a series of seminars on children’s eating habits, Melidonis revealed that one in three Greek schoolchildren eat fast food more than four times a week while 78 percent snack on pies and pizzas.
Green public transport promoted June 6, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Transport Air Sea Land.
Senior government officials took part yesterday in events aimed at getting Athenians onto public transport in a bid to promote environmentally friendlier travel habits on World Environment Day.
Transport Minister Michalis Liapis attended an event organized to promote the tram, which is expected to reach the southern Athens area of Voula by September. The tram currently ends in nearby Glyfada. “We must all limit the unimportant trips we make in our cars,” he said. Some 60,000 commuters use the tram every day, according to Liapis.
Greece has a dismal environmental record: There are some 1,150 illegal landfills across the country with an estimated 10,000 smaller dumping grounds, sites that not only contaminate the environment but also pose a serious fire risk in the hotter summer months.
On Monday the government unveiled a new composting plant that will process 50 percent of waste from the city’s only legal landfill in Ano Liosia, northwest Athens. It took 10 years to get the plant going after plans for the project began in 1997.
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis yesterday visited the recently built Kerameikos metro station on the underground train’s new western line.
An environmental group said yesterday that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is setting a poor example for the country due to the pollution caused by his 60-kilometer round trip to and from work every day.
“Our Prime Minister and his family live in the suburb of Rafina and he carries out his duties in the center of Athens, which means he commutes around 60 kilometers every day for work,” said the Green Ecologist group. Based on estimates that Karamanlis’s escort includes at least two armored limousines and three police motorcycles, the entire convoy discharges at least 9 tons of carbon dioxide every year, it said. “In comparison, the annual allotment of CO2 emissions to each of the Earth’s inhabitants to avoid destructive consequences is 3 tons,” the group said.
Panathinaikos signs Peseiro as new coach June 6, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
Athens club agrees on two-year deal with Peseiro, a UEFA Cup runner-up with Sporting
Panathinaikos soccer club, which parted ways with Spanish coach Victor Munoz at the end of last season after the Athens club ended third in the Super League and missed out on a Champions League berth, yesterday signed a two-year deal with Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro, the Athens team announced.
“I’m very glad about the prospect of coaching a major club. Panathinaikos is a renowned team, not just in Greece, but Europe as well,” Peseiro, a UEFA Cup runner-up with Sporting Lisbon three seasons ago, told reporters. “I’ve come to Panathinaikos to win titles.”
The Portuguese coach, aged 47, served as an assistant coach to Carlos Queiroz at Real Madrid in the 2003-04 season, but lasted just a year as a result of Queiroz’s sacking. The following season, Peseiro returned to Portugal to coach Sporting Lisbon, which he took within striking distance of the league title and led to the UEFA Cup final. The Portuguese team was defeated by CSKA Moscow in the final. Peseiro resigned from Sporting late in 2005.
Before joining Real Madrid, Peseiro spent an impressive four seasons with CD Nacional, which he led from Portugal’s third division to the top-tier league between the 1999-00 and 2002-03 seasons. He joins Panathinaikos having worked with Saudi club Al-Hilal the previous season.
Peseiro is the latest in a long-running series of coaching changes at Panathinaikos, a pattern that is common at most local clubs. The Athens team, one of the country’s two most popular, has won just one league title over the past decade, in the 2004-05 season. It was a league-and-cup double triumph for Panathinaikos that season but the club sacked its Israeli coach Itzhak Shum shortly afterward.
Peseiro flew back to Portugal yesterday and is due in Athens early next month to start work with his new club Panathinaikos.
Sawiris unveils plans for Wind expansion June 6, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Telecoms.
Egyptian telecoms magnate Naguib Sawiris and mobile operator TIM Hellas’s CEO Sokratis Kominakis announced the company’s renaming as Wind Hellas in Athens yesterday.
Sawiris said he had also made ‘a generous offer’ to the Public Power Corporation to buy out Tellas, its telecoms arm. He said Wind will expand into fixed telephony and broadband services as of this summer, a sector in which he plans to continue investing given the large profit margins.
Most wanted Aussie caught in Greece June 6, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Police & Crime.
Police said yesterday they had arrested an Australian fugitive in Athens who is wanted for murder and trafficking.
Tony Mokbel was arrested in the southern Athens suburb of Glyfada, police added. According to the Australian press, Mokbel is Australia’s most wanted fugitive and a global search for him had been launched 15 months ago.
A coordinated investigation involving Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police and international law enforcement agencies is believed to have led to the arrest.
Mokbel left Australia in March 2006 while standing trial in Melbourne on a charge of trafficking 2 kilograms of cocaine. The court convicted him in absentia and sentenced him to nine years.