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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-10

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] GNTO poster exhibition in Londonās Harrods
  • [02] Hatzidakis on Ministry policy

  • [01] GNTO poster exhibition in Londonās Harrods

    Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) posters dating back to 1929 will be exhibited in London's Harrods department store until the end of February. Posters will be on display in 10 out of the 72 windows of the world famous department store while video screenings will also be part of the tourism promotion campaign in addition to printed material that will be distributed to shoppers. Greece's promotion logo will feature on the back side of all Harrods receipts as well as a brief informative text while visitors will have the opportunity to taste Greek cuisine at the store's restaurant. The exhibition was inaugurated on Monday by Tourism Development Minister Costas Markopoulos and according to officials a total of 1 million people are expected to visit Harrods in the duration of the Greek tourist promotion campaign. Markopoulos stated that this is a first for such a promotion campaign in the specific department store and referring to the global economic crisis he stressed that this is not an easy year for tourism pointing out, however, that "tourism is a force that unites peoples and makes any conflict -- political, religious or social -- disappear". "The time that Greece was visited by tourists only for its antiquities and history has long gone," stressed Markopoulos, adding that the country is an attractive tourist destination both during the winter and the summer. The minister had a number of meetings with leading British tour operators aimed at attracting tourists throughout the duration of the current tourism season, pointing out to them that the goal is to establish Greece as an all-year-round tourist destination.

    [02] Hatzidakis on Ministry policy

    Development minister Costis Hatzidakis outlined the four focal points of the policy his ministry will follow to the end of the year, in a press conference on Tuesday, noting that by the end of April most of the legislation and actions will have been completed and set in motion.

    The four focal points are spurring the market and boosting liquidity and entrepreneurship, consumer protection and supervision of the market, investments in energy with the emphasis on 'green' energy, and enhancing research and technology.

    The minister stressed that particular importance was placed on supervision of the market and protection of the consumer from unjustified price hikes and abusive business attitudes, noting that "regardless of how many sucesses we may have with the measures that we will be taking in the immediate future, if we fail in the area of market supervision and consumer protection it will be as if we have failed in our entire endeavor".

    He added, however, that the government does not have "magical recipes" in the battle against the "many-headed monster" of high prices, and the cooperation was needed of all the market players, especially the consumers, to defeat it.

    Questioned on the prospect of a consumer boycott to punish the 'bad companies', Hatzidakis opined that it was just a matter of time that such practices, which he said are effective, will be organized by consumer organizations.

    He further said that he has "very specific thoughts" on how the fight against profiteering will be continued, reiterated that the names of companies proceeding with unjustified price increases will be made public, in order to inform the consumers, and warned that the iisue of price increases in fuel "has gone too far", noting that he has already contacted his authoritative fellow ministers, in writing, on advancing the materialization of the Competition Commission's recommendations for the oil market. "We have no room for failure with respect to oil products," Hatzidakis commented.

    Enhancing competition and confronting the problem of the cartels are among the first priorities of his ministry, in conjunction with boosting a consumer consciousness, he said. In that context, the new law on upgrading the Competition Commission being prepared by his ministry was expected to be passed in parliament by March. "The Competition Commission is doing, and will continue to do, its work because it is a key weapon of society against the cartels. It has significant cases currently in motion, and our aim is to enhance it institutionally and increase its staffing for its more effective operation," the minister said.

    Also, a process of transfers and future hirings for the staffing of the Market Supervision Service (YPEA) was being advanced.

    Further, the process of introduction of a new Price Monitoring system was being accelerated, with the installation of electronic instruments in various regions of Athens for price comparisons, he continued, and estimated that the bill on collection companies will have been passed in parliament by March and a four-digit telephone line for information on bank products will bee installed in April, while a variety of other actions were being planned for the Consumer Week observed on March 9-13.

    Caption: Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis address at a press conference in Athens on Tuesday 10 February 2009. ANA-MPA/MARIA MAROYANNI

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