Washington (ANA/MPA – T. Ellis)
Greece’s Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos predicted a rise in tourism to Greece, following the country’s organisation of the safe and successful Athens 2004 Olympic Games, while addressed a round-table discussion on tourism developments worldwide organised in Washington on Thursday by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
During the discussion, Avramopoulos expounded on the increase of tourism to Greece following the successful and safe hosting of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
At a press conference that followed the meeting, Avramopoulos announced that Athens will host a special meeting of the WTTC on February 18, while it was also announced that the WTTC’s 6th Global Travel and Tourism Summit would be hosted in Washington from April 10-12, with the theme “Open Mind-Open World”.
Avramopoulos underlined the post-Olympic Games performances of Greek tourism, noting that tourism was one of the sectors of the Greek economy that had benefitted most from the successful 2004 Games, and adding that Greece has upgraded its image internationally.
Replying to questions at the same press conference, J.W. Marriott Jr., Chairman and CEO of Marriott International, said that following the success of the Athens Games, his company was seeking new locations for investments in Greece.
Avramopoulos said that given Marriott’s deep knowledge and expertise in the sector, his statement was of great importance for Greek tourism and, by extention, the Greek economy, since the major hotel chains usually follow their competitors when they expand into specific markets.
Taking part in the round-table discussion on global tourism developments, in addition to Avramopoulos and Marriott, were Washington mayor Anthony Williams, WTTC president Jean-Claude Baumgarten, and WTTC chairman and chairman emeritus of Carey International Vincent Wolfington, among others.
Avramopoulos spoke of the role of tourism diplomacy and the importance of tourism not only as a significant source of revenue and empolyment, but also as a driving force of social upgrading and cultural mutual understanding globally. He congratulated the “visionary” mayor of Washington, Anthony Williams, on Washington’s selection to host the April WTTC global summit, the first summit to take place in a US city.
Williams lauded Avramopoulos as a true leader, noting their friendship dated back to Avramopoulos’ term as mayor of Athens, calling him the “Mayor of Mayors”.
In a televised interview with Reuters news agency later, and questioned on the lessons learnt from the successful hosting of the Olympic Games in Athens, Avramopoulos replied that Greece has modernised itself and has proven that it is a safe destination, a fact that has been acknowledged by the US, from which a significant rise in tourists to Greece is forecast this year.
Asked whether he was concerned about the repercussions in the wider region from the outbreak of deadly bird flu cases in neighbouring Turkey, Avarmopoulos replied that the whole world was worried and that confrontation of this problem, as well as other global phenomena such as terrorism, required international cooperation and solidarity. He added that Greece was vigilant and was implementing strict legislation.