Reducing barriers for trade between Australia and Greece, increasing tourism and buying Greek in Australia were just some of the practical measures discussed at a meeting held between members of the Australian parliament and Antonis Adamopoulos, President of the Australian Hellenic Business Council.

Mr Adamopoulos – who is in Australia and attended one of the largest Greek trade mission delegations – was invited to a meeting hosted by the President of the Victorian Upper House Bruce Atkinson to discuss two-way trade between the nations. Labor MP John Pandazopoulos – who attended the meeting alongside colleagues Martin Foley, Jenny Mikakos and Lee Tarlamis – told Neos Kosmos that positive steps were discussed further to the trade delegation that occurred in Melbourne last week.

Some of the practical ideas discussed included: reducing barriers for trade between Australia and Greece; building the profile of Greek products and trade in Australia; emerging investment opportunities for Australian businesses due to economic crisis in Greece and mobilising financial partners from Australia for viable Greek businesses; and encouraging the travel and tourism industry to work together to see more non-Greek Australians travel to Greece.

As it stands, 100,000 Australians travel to Greece each year; 60,000 of those are Greek Australians. “The mainstream [tourism] market is your bread and butter,” Mr Pandazopoulos said, “40,000 non-Greek Australians travelling to Greece is very low when you think about the strong heritage and historical links Australia has with Greece.”

He said we need to mobilise the travel agencies in Greece to promote more than airline tickets and look at the broader tourism industry such as travel ideas, itineraries and cultural programs. He said onus was also on the community to encourage more group travel to Greece. “There are a lot less organised Greek community groups doing cultural trips to Greece now from around 20 years ago,” he said.

With so many community organisations, brotherhoods, schools and dance groups in Australia, he said they should be aiming to organise trips to Greece and creating cultural programs for non-Greek Australians wanting to experience the Hellenic Republic. He also implored schools get on board and organise educational experiences to Greece. Another suggestion from the meeting was taking advantage of the diaspora visiting Greece during the European summer. “Every year there are so many business people around the world in Greece in summer having their holidays, can we harness that next year to try to create and have a discussion somewhere, maybe Thessaloniki as a trade and investment type forum.”

This way, some of the best business minds from all over the world – who have a Greek background -discuss ideas to ensure that trade is created and more business opportunities are available for Greeks. And with Christmas around the corner, Mr Pandazopoulos has implored the community to once again buy Greek. “These are some practical things we can do as a community – and are happening by some groups – whilst the business people build real mainstream business links. There are real possibilities here.”