Greece’s Leftist Syriza Leader Says International Loan Deal Invalid

ATHENS (Dow Jones)–The head of the leftist Syriza party of Greece sent a letter Thursday to European leaders saying the country’s loan agreement with international creditors is no longer valid following national elections.

Alexis Tsipras, who led Syriza to second place in the polls on Sunday with 16.8% of the vote and who failed Wednesday to form a coalition government, also said the debt crisis is not Greek, but rather, European, and must be resolved by the European Union as a whole.

“The Greek people’s …

Ex-Pat Greeks Use Crowd Funding to Promote Tourism

As Greece grapples with its uncertain political future, a group of expatriate Greeks concerned about the future of tourism, a key economic driver, is helping promote their native country in a novel way.

They used crowd funding to raise money for billboard advertising in New York’s Times Square in March and April. Another billboard went up in Washington, D.C. on May 3.

Social media campaign
Called Up Greek Tourism, the promotion used social media sites to raise more than $20,000 in 20 days from private individuals around the world to pay for the billboards.

There is also a website, with a video promoting Greece tourism, along with other information on the destination and the cause.

Volunteer effort
Most of the individuals behind the drive are not involved in the travel industry. The project is managed by Greeks around the world on a voluntary basis, with no budget or hired professionals.

“Our team is made of people with day jobs, working on this project in their spare time. We chose tourism, because it is the ‘heavy industry’ in Greece,” said Yorgos Kleivokiotis, one of the initiative’s co-founders.

Changing the future
“While our government is trying to deal with the economic crisis, we, as individuals, should not wait. We need to take matters into our own hands to help change the future of our country,” said co-founder Onic Palandjian.

Everyday people promoting tourism to their country is very unusual – and perhaps a first for Europe, said veteran Europe destination marketer Neil S. Martin, who co-edits the newsletter Trans-Atlantic Report.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of such a phenomena,” Martin told Travel Market Report.

Agents urged to sell Greece
Travel agents should not shun Greece as a recommended destination, Kleivokiotis told Travel Market Report, though clients’ safety concerns do need to be addressed, he added.

“Greeks this year will be more hospitable than ever, because they realize the importance of tourist spending. I believe you can get better deals these days, making Greece more affordable.”

Industry backing
Up Greek Tourism is support by at least one travel industry organization, Hellenic Holidays, a travel agency and tour operator in New York.

“We support the effort and grassroots campaign of Up Greek Tourism,” Petros Zissimos, a travel planner with Hellenic Holidays, told Travel Market Report.

“We support Up Greek Tourism, frankly, because of their no-nonsense attitude, their work effort and their belief that bypassing bureaucracy gets things done.”

Hellenic Holidays, whose offices are in New York’s Times Square, where the initial billboard was located, did see a positive effect from the campaign, Zissimos said. “We did have bookings from the effort.”

Impact of austerity measures
Greece attracts close to 15 million tourists a year, almost 4 million more than its total population, according to Up Greek Tourism. Tourism accounts for nearly 18% of Greece’s GDP and employs roughly one-fifth of the country’s workforce.

Calling Greece’s economic circumstances “desperate,” Europe destination marketer Martin said of the Up Greek drive, “this is real patriotism that helps their people.”

Of the European countries that have received bailouts from the EU, only Ireland is still investing heavily in tourism, according to Martin. “Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, even France, are doing very little because their governments have cut back on their budgets.”

See related story, “Unrest in Greece: Cause for Client Concern?,” May 3, 2012

Sovereign Luxury Travel Offers Fantastic Savings on Crete

Book in May to take advantage of range of early booking offers and complimentary upgrades at Crete’s most chic hotels

(PRWEB UK) 8 May 2012

Crete is one of Greece’s most popular destinations. The island is the fifth largest in the Mediterranean and one of Greece’s most Southerly points boasting an enviable year-round climate.

Among the island’s most luxurious resorts are Elounda, Plaka and Aghios Nikolaos; all nestled on the Elounda peninsula and the islet of Spinalonga, these resorts boast a wide range of five-star and five-star deluxe properties. For a limited time, Sovereign Luxury Travel is offering a range of discounts and complimentary upgrades when booking Crete holidays at one of these opulent resorts.

The Blue Palace Resort Spa offers a spectacular collection of suites and bungalows built into the cliff-tops overlooking Spinalonga. Reminiscent of an ancient Greek palace, the service here is fit for a king and the award-winning restaurant and beachside spa will cater to even the most sophisticated tastes. Any bookings made with Sovereign before 31 May 2012 will receive complimentary half board and up to 30% off the price of a room.

If living like a celebrity is high on the list of priorities, then the Domes of Elounda certainly won’t disappoint. A favourite haunt for the rich and famous, this intimate resort is located in Plaka, and has just 80 suites, some of which with private pools. Call buttons by the pool mean food and snacks delivered personally are never far away. Book your Sovereign holiday before 15 May 2012 to take advantage of a discount of up to 20%, complimentary half board, a complimentary night, complimentary spa experience, complimentary degustation dinner, and complimentary champagne and fruit in the room upon arrival.

The Daios Cove Luxury Resort Villas completes the trio of breathtaking accommodation options on offer from Sovereign this Spring. Located just outside Aghios Nikolaos, this hidden gem is a relative newcomer to Greece holidays but has already built up and impressive reputation. It consists of 261 luxurious rooms and suits, as well as 30 private villas. An early booking discount of up to 20%, complimentary half board and up to £200 resort credit are on offer here with Sovereign when booking before 20 May 2012.

For more information on these offers as well as more exceptional value luxury holiday offers, visit the Sovereign website.

Mark Cronin
020 73857090
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