Greece is always in the headlines these days, but the negative publicity associated with the economic crisis has resulted in a drop in tourist bookings. Now tour operators are pushing to save the image of Greece as a safe haven for tourists.
With tourism accounting for 18 percent of Greece's GDP, the potential loss of tourist revenue is likely to further damage the economy and add to the unemployment statistics.
Athens News reports the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) has joined forces with the U.K.'s ABTA (Travel Association), AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) and FTO (Federation of Tour Operators), to appeal to the Greek government and the Troika to save the image of Greece.
The tour operators are not alone in their wish to promote the image of the real Greece, as opposed to the violent demonstrations that take part on the television screens but are limited to a very small section of the Greek capital.
An innovative project to mount a massive billboard in Times Square, New York, to promote Greek tourism, was launched by 'Up Greek Tourism.'
Yorgos Kleivokiotis, one of the three founders of 'Up Greek Tourism' explained to Hellenic News why the decision to promote tourism was opted for. He said “We chose tourism, because it is the heavy industry of Greece. The income of tourism is then widespread around the economy”. The billboard is due to run from mid-March.
Meanwhile, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, who said these days "Everyone wants to be Greek," told Greek Reporter that the World Economic Forum should be transferred to Greece to show solidarity with the Greek people, and promote tourism.
As the BBC reports, "the crisis hasn’t scarred the very attractions that make Greece one of the top 20 tourist destinations in the world. “The sun will still shine, the waters are still crystal clear and the skies are blue." Tour operators are offering competitive packages and tempting offers to lure tourists to Greece in 2012. One independent tour operator said “This year you will find a Greece that is far more welcoming and appreciative of your visit.”