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At long last air connections between the islands of the Ionian to be established
With his letter to the General Secretary of the District of the Ionian Islands, Mrs Kanelopoulou, the Minister of Transport Christos Verelis announced that in the second phase of the programme for the enforcement of obligations to provide public services (unprofitable shipping lines), which will begin to be applied in the summer of 2002, air connections between the Ionian islands will be included, with the route Cefalonia – Zakynthos – Aktion – Corfu. While these connections will contribute to an increase in air traffic, they will also bring down the cost of transport and will create a new, specialized tourist market, with many positive effects on the development of the region.
O First Choice invests in "Alternative Tourism"
Ď British Tour Operator First Choice has set up a new division dedicated to Alternative Tourism, following the acquisition of Exodus Travel, for the sum of 8.75 million pounds. The Managing Director of the First Choice group, Peter Long, announced that amongst the Company’s short-term plans is the acquisition of other companies in the field of alternative tourism, which includes outdoor activities, walking and sports. “Activity holidays are still a splinter group of tourism, offering many interesting opportunities” he said. He went on to say that in recent years this type of tourism had shown an annual increase of between 10-12%. Exodus Travel has a programme of alternative tourism holidays covering 80 countries, with activities such as rafting, trekking, mountain bike tours, and other outdoor activities in general. It handles about 20,000 holidaymakers annually, and, as Mr. Long stated, is expected to show a double-figure increase next year, when it will be operating within the First Choice group. The Managing Director of Exodus, David Gillespie, will retain his position and will be Head of the new division. 90% of the clients of Exodus are from the British market, through the direct sales system. Finally, depending on the first year profits of the new division, First Choice may pay an additional 1.5 million pounds for the acquisition. This move by First Choice and other major tour operators looks likely to have a .long-term effect on the future of the smaller specialist tour operators as well as on the development of tourism and its infrastructure in tourist destinations. .The expansion of tour operators involved in mass tourism into more specialized areas of tourism may well have a negative effect on the smaller tour operators, lessening their competitive advantage , while on the other hand, the tendency for those interested in alternative tourism to travel in larger groups must find the host destinations ready to receive the new type of visitor, with appropriate services and infrastructure. (source DTN)
The Sales begin !
On Monday 1st July the summer sales begin. Despite initial doubts on the part of shopkeepers, the duration of the sales will be from 1st July to 31st August, throughout the country, as decided by the Ministry of Development.
Cruises in the footsteps of Odysseus
As part of the current co-operation between Greece nd Tunisia, and within the framework of the programme 'In the Footsteps of Odysseus', the cruise ship 'Carthage' arrived at Corfu with 800 passengers. Similar cruises, organized by various companies, will follow during the coming months. EOT is to bring out a special publication describing the route and the ports-of-call of the mythical journey, comparing today's reality to the legend of the past, as part of its campaign to highlight the pleasures of tourism by sea in Greece.
Ôhe most important cultural event of recent years in Corfu
Replying In Parliament to questions raised by Mr. E. Kontomaris, The Minister of Culture, Mr. E. Venizelos, refrred amongst others, to plans for a programme of repairs and reconstruction work on the walls of the Old Fortress of Corfu, with a budget of 1.4 million euros. It is also proposed to establish a Lyric Theatre in Corfu, with a budget of 14.6 million euros, and to re-open the Chinese wing of the Museum of Asian Art. There are also plans for the archaeological site of Paleopolis at Kanoni. Referring to the announcement of plans for a Lyric Theatre in Corfu, Mr. Drys, Minister of Agriculture and PASOK MP for Corfu, expressed his delight with the news, calling it 'the most important cultural event of recent years in Corfu.' He said that older Corfiots would recall with nostalgia the great cultural and artistic heritage of their youth, while younger Corfiots would soon be offered an intellectual outlet of higher quality.
What is happening with the Perama-Benitses by-pass ?
Mr. E. Kontomaris, PASOK MP for Corfu, put a question to Minister Vasso Papandreou in Parliament today, asking what progress, if any, has been made on the promised study for a by-pass road to skirt Perama-Benitses. The Minister promised to look into the matter. This section of the route from Corfu Town and the airport to the south of the island is one of the most congested sections of the entire Corfu road network, especially, of course, in summer.
Drop in German interest
According to the newspaper ENIMEROSI, the island's travel agents have returned from the ITB Tourism Fair in Berlin with a pessimistic message. Vassilis Kondos and Dimitris Haritos spoke about a drop in the number of visitors (from the German market) in the region of 10 - 15%, at the same time as other EU destinations in the Mediterranean are facing even worse problems. "World-wide, tourism is shaky, facing fears of a new crisis, whatever form that may take". With these words, the former president of the Corfu section of HATTA and president of the Corfu Chamber of Commerce, Vassilis Kondos, attempts to convey the climate that exists amongst tour operators throughout Europe. The Berlin Fair is considered one of the most important events in the field of tourism, representing as it does the last major opportunity for members of this branch of tourism in Europe to meet before the start of the summer season. It is here, too, that the first contacts, discussions and agreements for the next winter and summer seasons take place. Tourism worldwide has suffered a great blow - following the events of 11th September and afterwards - in the loss of more than 11 million jobs in the fields of tourism and transport, while there has been a distinct downturn in the economy of Europe and the US. The Secretary of the Corfu Travel Agents' Association, Dimitris Haritos, was in full agreement with Mr. Kondos on the urgent need to maintain stable rates, while the possibility of a reduction in rates might allow a short-term breathing space, in the midterm and longterm view however, such a move would cause substantial damage and would cause a drop in the standard of our tourism product and of the type of visitor to Corfu.
Questions in parliament about the programme for the extension of the tourist season
The interruption in the programme designed to extend the tourist season in Greece, which was announced by the Government in the summer of 2001, has been denounced in questions put to Parliament by 6 New Democracy Members of Parliament, amongst them Mr. Spyros Spyrou, the Corfiot Member. The Members of Parliament are asking the Government what measures they propose to take to ensure the continuation of the programme in a period of decline in the tourism industry, and have asked for all the documents to be made available that indicate the smooth running of the programe so far.
French interest in Greek eco-tourism
The French Ambassador in Athens, M. Jean Maurice Ripert, accompanied by the commercial attaché of the Embassy, visited the Greek Secretary for Development, Mr. Georgakopoulos, yesterday, and told him of the lively interest shown by French visitors in eco-tourism and cultural excursions in Greece. The French Ambassador talked about his country's long tradition of eco-tourism projects and underlined that within the framework of teaching about Greek culture and civilization that takes place in France, intense interest is shown in related programmes in the field of tourism.
Mayor Sarlis seeks opinion of UNESCO
An application to set up an installation consisting of storage tanks for crude oil and asphalt at Sagiada, Thesprotia, close to the Albanian border, is to be looked into by the UNESCO representatives in Greece, as well as by the World Committee for Monuments and Sites . The aim is to conduct research into whether this installation could constitute a threat to the ancient site of Butrint. The call to look into possible side effects was made by the Mayor of Corfu, Mr Chrysanthos Sarlis, through the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Threat to the number of cruise boats calling at Corfu
Corfu's travel agents are not in favour of significant increases in port taxes for the cruise ships calling here, according to their letter of protest to the Ministries of Shipping and of Finance. The proposed increase arises from a change in the method of calculation based on the overall capacity, rather than the net capacity, which has applied until now. The travel agents claim that this action will result in a decrease in the number of cruise ships, with their largely high-income bracket tourists, who are so important to the island's economy.
Corfu voted 'Numero Uno' for holidays by the Italians too
The 2002 season is expected to be a particularly good one for Italian visitors to Greece, with an increase of 6 - 7% compared with the year 2001, with the numbers expected to exceed 800,000 (777,000 last year). This optimistic conclusion was reached after meetings between leading figures in tourism and the Secretary for Development, Mr. Dimitris Georgakopoulos, the President of EOT, Mr. Giannis Patellis, and other officials, during the international travel fair in Milan. The Italian visitors' interest is centred on specialized forms of tourism, and for this reason EOT, together with the Ministry of the Aegean and the Merchant Marine, and in co-operation with the regions of Italy, intends to promote various projects, including the 'Journey of Odysseus' .This is a route by sea which includes many stops at Greek islands. It is also proposed to set up multicultural parks on Ionian islands such as Corfu, Zakynthos, etc., which will familiarize the visitor with the development of art in Greece, Italy and Croatia, and to promote the itinerary 'In the Steps of Saint Paul'. There is lively interest in Italy in the eco-tourism programmes in Greece, bearing in mind that 2002 has been declared the International Year of Eco-tourism. Source: APE.
Greece the favourite holiday destination of the British
It seems that the British prefer Greece for their holidays. The year 2002 looks like being a record year for numbers of British visitors to Greece, due to improvements in airport infrastructure and basic tourist services, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). Estimates indicate a total of 3 million British visitors to Greece this year compared with 2.7 million last year. This optimistic outlook was expressed during the visit to 'Confex' in London by the President of EOT, Mr. Giannis Patellis, who was accompanied by the EOT representative in London, Mr. P. Argyros, the President of SEPOS, Mr. Mantzios, and the President of HATTA, Mr. Evangelos. During the exhibition, Mr. Patellis spoke to representatives of the BBC, to the directors of the Federation of Tour Operators, to the President of ABTA, and also to the President of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO). EOT aims at attracting small and large conference groups as well as incentive tourism, initially to Athens and Thessalonika, and also the main tourist centres (Rhodes, Corfu, Kos, Crete, Halkidiki, Zakynthos, etc), with the ultimate goal of the recognition of Greece as an international conference destination. Greece has still, so far, not achieved recognition in the conference market, in spite of being such a well-known holiday destination.
The Austrians, too, prefer Corfu
The Director of EOT, Mr. Giannis Patellis, brings us an encouraging message from the International Tourism Exhibition "Holiday 2002" which took place in Vienna. EOT took part in the exhibition with a stand of 304 square metres in area, at which, apart from the various regions and districts, 11 tourist enterprises participated as exhibitors. Greece has made strong progress and this year will be 'the winner' of the season in Austria's tourist market, conclude representatives of the largest Austrian tourist organisations, amongst them Mr. Leitner of GTT Gulet Touropa Touristik, Mr. Ednev of TUI, and Mr. Tobisk of Neckermann. According to estimates there will be a substantial increase in the number of Austrians visiting Greece this year, compared to some 500,000 visitors last year. This promising outlook is based on the fact that Greece , according to relevant polls undertaken in Austria, offers the tourist from this country everything he expects from his summer holidays in one balanced relationship between prices and services offered. In addition, it is a Christian destination with a stable political situation and safety, offering now, of course, the convenience of the common European currency. Per capita expenditure by the Austrian tourist is high , and this is confirmed by the OOSA reports, which place the Austrians in first place in Europe and amongst the top spenders in the world when it comes to holidays.

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