Greece attempts to lure culture tourists


ATHENS – Greece is offering to guarantee stranded holidaymakers the costs of their accommodation in an attempt to salvage some of its 2010 tourist season.

The authorities see the outlook as being less gloomy now than after anti-austerity riots last month and are seeking visitors from China or Japan who are more interested in Greece’s ancient culture than its sunshine.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be a good year for Greek tourism but we hope to recover many of the losses,” culture and tourism minister Pavlos Geroulanos said.

Many foreign visitors cancelled trips after the deaths of three people in Athens on May 5th during rioting against government cuts imposed to secure an EU and IMF bailout worth €110 billion.

Mr Geroulanos said Athens was hardest hit by cancellations, while some islands were barely affected. In an incentive, Greece would guarantee hotel costs for tourists stranded, for instance by strikes or flights grounded by ash from the Icelandic volcano.

Mr Geroulanos said Greece wanted to attract more tourists from countries including China, India and Japan. “The more tourists we have like that, the more we can preserve the culture of Greece as we want it to be. We don’t need to become too accommodating to changes in our culture.”

Some British tourists, for instance, merely wanted to “experience a British pub in a warm place”.

So far this year “you see a drop in numbers [of tourists] from England and Germany, but we see a huge increase from Russia, and they tend to spend more money per capita,” he said. – (Reuters)