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Tourism for a world of understanding and cooperation

07 December 12 | Dimitris Avramopoulos
D. Avramopoulos

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Dimitris Andritsos

CEO of Eurobank Property Services S.A Eurobank Property Services

Aristotelis Karytinos

CEO of NBG Pangaea REIC NBG Pangaea REIC

We live in an age that does not cause the same sense of optimism as the 90's did, concerning the prospect of global cooperation and integration.

We live in an age that does not cause the same sense of optimism as the 90's did, concerning the prospect of global cooperation and integration.

Science, technology, commerce moves forward, but history seems to halt in view of fear. Fear of change, fear of the insecurity that comes together with change.

Slowdown of economic growth in some areas of the world and deep recession in other, have fueled reactionary perceptions, nationalisms and conflict among cultures.

Unfortunately, Europe is a leader in this trend. Europe our common home, the continent that overcame the wall of Cold War, and offered to the world a model of coexistence, economic growth and social cohesion, seems for a moment, to return to the prison of its dark old days.

Europe this magnificent will of the people, the force that pushed towards a Single Market, established the Monetary Union and achieved Enlargement, is now on the retreat.

The walls between East and West are now replaced by walls that divide the North with the South. Even worse, Europe in absolute contrast with the tradition that it managed to build during the post-war years, seems to accept that we can accept, and live with walls threatening the cohesion of our societies.

At the same moment, global competition has become truly global. Countries like India and Brazil are already making things that can compete in quality the products and services of Europe.

They are all investing. China in its research capacity and its social cohesion, India has become a leading knowledge economy, even the United States have started to pay increased attention to their social divides.

Why? All these great counties-regions have understood that the competitive advantage of tomorrow will not be determined by labor cost, but by confidence, quality and swift decision making.

If you are divided you cannot be confident. If you fear and worry about tomorrow you cannot be innovative and if you are a slow decision maker in an interconnected world you are simply a loser.

Europe stalls, in an age where the ability to be fast determines the leaders and the followers of coming history.

Nevertheless, the conception of a United Europe can still be the greatest project in human history.

Europe is still the main court of global interplay. It is still a catalyst for global balance and cooperation. It still produces and offers products and ideas that the world admires. It has power in its diversity. A power, that can only be harnessed in union.

We live in a transitory age. There is no doubt. The future lies in closer international cooperation and integration. The forces that are resisting the global wave of change are causing the crisis. Reaction, Fear and Delay are the causes of the crisis.

In this world, where political and social progress seems for time halted, tourism can open doors and build bridges of mutual understanding.

We must never forget that one of the reasons that the wall fell in Europe was because the one side wanted desperately to visit the other.

We must never forget that revolution in transport was and still is one of the drivers of global change, leading to a smaller and a flat world.

The traveler comes always first in discovering the beauty of the new and the different. He or she is always first in opening new avenues of communication, trade and investment.

Tourism abolishes stereotypes and brings closer the citizens of the world.
To testify this fact, it would be interesting to conduct a research in the public opinion of countries where the national press exceeded in producing stereotypes about Greece and Greeks. It would be interesting to measure how many of those who agreed with these stereotypes had ever visited Greece.

In a world where foreign relations are not only determined behind closed doors and intergovernmental negotiations, where the public opinion is the new emergent super power, tourism can play a crucial role as a perception shaper.

It goes without saying, that for Greece tourism can contribute considerably towards enhancing and strengthening the relations with critical countries for our national interests. We must not forget that because of tourism we gain each year thousands of ambassadors for Greece.

This why I took the initiative when I served in the Ministry of Tourism Development to institute the idea of tourism diplomacy.

An initiative that sought to deepen relations between our country and other countries, having as an axis cooperation in the area of tourism. Experience says that an agreement in tourism has always a multiplier effect on other areas of cooperation.


Now, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs we are being loyal to the idea, by working intensively so as to speed up processes that make visiting Greece easier for new developing tourism markets.

In travel and tourism experience there are no adversaries and no inimical cultures. People visit foreign countries and cultures because they want to discover and come into contact with the new and the different.

The value of opening up a country and the values of an open world are animated by the visit. To this end, a traveler, is always the bearer of small or large revolutionary developments.

Tourism is and will always be one of the most basic pillars for a free an open world.

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