2nd week of “Go to Greece Campaign” – Messages by: U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis, AHEPA Supreme President Carl R Hollister, HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides and AHI President Nick Larigakis
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Going into the second week of “Go to Greece” campaign of the “Greek News”, more people are joining in with their messages, extending invitations to visit Greece and help economic recovery efforts. U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis, AHEPA Supreme President Carl R Hollister, HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides and AHI President Nick Larigakis are hosted in this issue of the “Greek News”.
Ambassador Pyatt is not only the U.S. Ambassador to Greece but also a “Greek Ambassador” to the U.S. Public. Having travel extensively across Greece, he offers his own travel “tips” to Greek American and American travelers. He also extents an invitation for people to plan their vacation and at the same time participate at the Thessaloniki International Fair, where the United States is the honored country.
“The United States has a stake in Greece’s return to economic growth and stability, so I applaud efforts, like this Greek News tribute, to increase tourism and with it, build appreciation for Greece’s first-rate cultural and natural gems as a way to help Greece emerge from its economic crisis”, says Ambassador Pyatt.
State Senator Leonidas Raptakis, in his message stresses the importance of not forgetting our roots by visiting Greece.
“Greek American legislator Dan Vrakas from Lefkada doesn’t speak a word of Greek. His Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother have emigrated from Greece. When he visited Lefkada they welcomed him like a lost son and hero; and now he goes back every year. It is a key not to forget our roots.”
Carl R Hollister, Supreme President of AHEPA says “all of us from coast to coast should visit Greece in support of their economy and in support of the promotion of Hellenism. Summer 2018 should be your year to visit.”
HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides describes visiting Greece “an investment in yourself and your family”.
“Hellenism’s survival depends on us remaining connected to Hellas”, Zemenides says in his message.
“Every time we visit Greece, every dollar we spend goes directly to the economy of Greece at the grass roots level”, says AHI President Nick Larigakis.
For the tenth time, this year will sponsor an educational trip of 10 college students to Greece and Cyprus.
“This is another way, not only to help educating future leaders of the Greek American Community, to make them ambassadors regarding the issues that we at AHI advocate and promote, but at the same time we help contributing to the Greek economy in that way”, Larigakis says.
U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt
Reflecting on my travels in Greece, here’s my advice to Americans: dive deep into Greece and let yourself be amazed by the options available. We learn from a young age that Greece is the birthplace of democracy, the cradle of western civilization, and so many people plan their whole lives to go to the Acropolis and the various monuments in Athens that record the birth of democracy. Do not miss them, but I would encourage you to venture further, to visit ancient Dodoni or ancient Olympia, just a couple of the dozens of UNESCO world heritage sites in Greece that are still largely undiscovered by American tourists.
I also advise Americans to expand their horizons beyond the customary island stops like Mykonos and Santorini. They are incredible places for a holiday, but many of Greece’s lesser-known islands, like Syros, Naxos, Andros or Chios, will also take your breath away.
In April, I visited Mount Athos. I found it to be a uniquely spiritual place where Greece’s rich Orthodox tradition thrives, along with its deep connection to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. Its rough landscape and rolling hills are home to some of the most important, traditional Greek art, like the 9th century Axion Esti icon, and some truly amazing monasteries.
Greece’s Minister for Tourism, Elena Kountoura, has made it easier to enjoy the country by implementing new policies to extend the travel season, promoting new thematic products, opening new markets to boost connectivity, and promoting new Greek tourism investments. American companies are expanding into the market now with Avis returning to the market with an $81 million investment and hotel operators like Marriott, Hyatt and Wyndham rapidly expanding their foothold in the market. It also helps that Greece recently earned the State Department’s best travel advisory level possible.
So we are also planning for tourism to play an important role at the Thessaloniki International Fair this September, where the U.S. will be the honored country. I can think of no better reason to plan your Greek holiday to participate in what will be a landmark event in U.S. support for Greece’s economic recovery and the completion of its last bailout program.
The United States has a stake in Greece’s return to economic growth and stability, so I applaud efforts, like this Greek News tribute, to increase tourism and with it, build appreciation for Greece’s first-rate cultural and natural gems as a way to help Greece emerge from its economic crisis.
It is very important to keep travelling back to Greece because we building economic, commercial and educational bridges. There is a lot happening in Greece this year; we had the Delphi Economic Forum, Posidonia is coming up next week and in September we Thessaloniki International Trade Faire, which is a very important trade fair, especially with the United Stated being the host nation.
It is important to have more Greek Americans and more Americans travel to Greece and see what the investment opportunities are. Not just for the summer time vacations and visiting family; but I think to help Greece to come out of this economic crisis and to help the Greek youth. Helping the Greek youth by having American companies go to Greece and invest and creating opportunities.
Microsoft and all these companies are going to Greece this coming September and help the country recover.
Just like what the United States did back in WWII by giving Greece over 400 – 500 “liberty ships” to rebuild the economy. We ‘ve got to get this now.
Visiting Greece is also important for Greek Americans to stay close to their roots. We have Greek American legislators, like Dean Vrakas from Lefkada, who doesn’t speak a word of Greek. His Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother have emigrated from Greece. When he visited Lefkada they welcomed him like a lost son and hero; and now he goes back every year. It is a key not to forget our roots.
Carl R Hollister, Supreme President
After a fantastic trip to Greece on the official AHEPA excursion we were happy and proud to be able to meet with many members of the Greek Government and especially our friend Elena Kountoura. As tourism minister Elena reported how exciting the past few years have been for the tourism industry in Greece.
All of us from coast to coast should visit Greece in support of their economy and in support of the promotion of Hellenism. Summer 2018 should be your year to visit.
Endy Zemenides, HALC Executive Director
Greek Americans can make no greater contribution to Hellenism this summer than going to Greece. It is an economic boost to Greece – especially since the average American tourist spends more money than their European or Russian counterpart. More importantly, it is an investment in yourself and your family. Hellenism’s survival depends on us remaining connected to Hellas.
I’ll be going to Greece. Hope to see you there.
Nick Larigakis, AHI President
Congratulations again to the “Greek News” for promoting a very important aspect of how we can help Greece in the Diaspora and specifically by taking our tourist dollars to Greece. That is the simplest way to help Greece each one of us individually at any given time during the course of the year. Because, every time we visit Greece, every dollar we spend goes directly to the economy of Greece at the grass roots level.
I congratulate the “Greek News” for doing this effort for nine years now and I will surely urge all Greek Americans to consider going back to Greece this year; “going back home” as the old slogan used to say. Back home to Greece, where we not only enjoy a tremendous vacation at very – very reasonable prices – the best in all of Europe – but at the same time we continue helping the Greek economy by infusing are American dollars while we are there.
At the American Hellenic Institute we do our share of that with multiple trips during the course of the year. We just had a very successful dinner there with 360 people. We just contribute 24% of 32,000 to the Greece economy. But in addition to that, we have a very successful program we sponsor for college students from different universities. Every year we take 10 students with two chaperons. This year it is going to be the 10th anniversary of this particular trip and we will be there for almost eight days in Greece, in addition to five days to Cyprus.
This is another way, not only to help educating future leaders of the Greek American Community, to make them ambassadors regarding the issues that we at AHI advocate and promote, but at the same time we help contributing to the Greek economy in that way.