After eight years of lobbying by the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM), the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) will finally re-open an office in Melbourne in the Greek Centre, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.

In a telephone conference on Tuesday, January 25 (AEST), with GCM President Bill Papastergiadis, the Greek Minister for Tourism, Vassilis Kikilias confirmed that the GNTO will re-open its office in Australia after over a decade of absence in the GCM’s building.

Minister Kikilias said “it is important for us to add more markets so that we have travellers and tourists 12 months a year.”

He emphasised that Australia, given its large Greek Australian population, and Australians’ high level of international travel, is a critical target for year-round tourism promotions.

“It is a continent on the other side of the world, with a significant Greek population, and is a market that has opened up after two years of restrictive measures brought on by the pandemic.”

In the telephone conference, Community president, Papastergiadis emphasised the importance of “creating bridges between the two nations.”

“We share values and ideals and communities that will benefit from this new resource,” the GCM president said.

“The NGTO office is well-suited to the Greek Centre, where it will nestle under the recently unveiled Parthenon Frieze replica, alongside the Australian head office of the National Bank of Greece.”

Calling it “a dream come true” Papastergiadis expressed his delight with the Greek government’s decision to go ahead with the opening of the GNTO office at the Greek Centre.

“It is something we have been encouraging for eight years and finally Minister Kikilias will make it happen,” Papastergiadis told Neos Kosmos.

He said that the Greek government’s tourism office will benefit for all Australians” and not just Greek Australians.”

“The GNTO aims to open Greece as a destination on many levels for the entire year not just Greece’s famous summer period.

“The reality is that Greece is a multi-layered destination that appeals in so many different ways,” Papastergiadis told Neos Kosmos.

“We will need to expand the image of, and understanding of Greece beyond common stereotypes.”

Papastergiadis said that a “deeper conversation” would begin as a tourism office will “develop events and discussions with diverse Australian tourist operators, as well as government.”

“Our centre will co-design events with the tourism office in our 15-storey centre, which will be a gateway for people to come closer to Hellenic culture and language, and introduce a new dynamic to the existing conversations,” Papastergiadis told Neos Kosmos.

He said that the Community was “excited by what this office can bring.”

“It will open up the cultural and historical components that make Greece a remarkable place all year-round, and promote the country and its people beyond its summer island image, as the profound blend of ancient, medieval and contemporary cultures,” Papastergiadis told Neos Kosmos.