Australian travel platform Rome2Rio labelled the island of Crete, Greece, as Ottoman.
The mistake comes at a time of tension between Greece and Turkey, less than a month after energy disputes with Turkey off the coast of Crete.
Neos Kosmos reached out to Rome2Rio, where a spokesman confirmed that Crete had been referred to as Ottoman Crete due to an error in the system. The group profusely apologised to Greeks for the mistake, especially following a complaint by the Greek Embassy. “We want to apologise to people in Greece and around the world for any hurt or offence we caused,” the spokesman told Neos Kosmos.
“The process that led to the error was an automated one where a small number of incorrect place names were listed on the site for a short period of time.
“The error was the result of historical names being incorrectly applied after being compiled by an automated process that draws on a large number of publicly available data points. It does not reflect the views of anyone working at our company.
“The incorrect name was live on our site for a matter of days and was removed as soon as users brought it to our attention.
“The company has reviewed and updated the process that led to this error to ensure that it cannot be repeated.”
Rio2Rome CEO Yesh Munnangi had also sent letters of apology to Greek Ambassador Georges Papacosta and Greek Consul-General in Melbourne Dimitris Michalopoulos:
Dear Ambassador Papakosta and Consul-General Michalopoulos,
I am writing to convey my sincerest apologies for an error on our website which incorrectly labelled the Greek island of Crete.
This error was the result of an automated update and should not have occured. It has been corrected, and our processes have been reviewed to ensure it is not repeated.
I wish to convey my apologies to you, and to Greek people in Crete, around Greece and around the world for any hurt or offence that we caused.
As a company founded in a city with the largest Greek expat population in the world, and which helps thousands of people travel to Greece every year, we value our connection to and friendship with the Greek community and want that friendship to continue.
Thank you for your understanding,
Australia and New Zealand Cretan Federation President Antonis Tsourdakalakis told Sotiris Hatzimanolis of Neos Kosmos that he had begun legal action against the platform and had informed Multicultural Affairs Minister David Coleman and Victoria’s Multicultural Affairs Minister Ros Spence of the incident.
“I was surprised and insulted,” Mr Tsourdalakis said.
Greek Community of Melbourne President Bill Papastergiadis had also swiftly condemned the labelling of “Ottoman Crete”. He said, “There is not even one person in this country, in Australia, who doubts the Greek identity of Crete.”
On its part Rome2Rio was left embarrassed by the mistake and the diplomatic episode it prompted. Neos Kosmos was reassured that measures had been taken to ensure that such a mistake would not occur again.
“As a which helps thousands of people travel to Greece every year including many Greek-Australians, we value our friendship with the Greek community and want that friendship to continue,” the Rome2Rio spokesman said.