The Greek Tourism Minister, Ms Olga Kefalogianni, and the vice president of the Greek National Tourism Organisation, Mr Christopher Kaparounakis, were in Australia last week to promote tourism to Greece and to sign a working holiday visa agreement between Australia and Greece.

This is an important step in bringing Greece up to date with the way young Australians pursue their Antipodean travel. Our geographic distance often demands that our youth undertake longer trips overseas and subsidise their expenses with paid part-time jobs, often in the hospitality industry. This agreement will encourage both Greeks and non-Greek travellers to include Greece as part of their plans along with the usual other European destinations.

Minister Kefalogianni also spoke of ‘Thematic Travel’ objectives in marketing tourism. Gastronomy, health spa, historical and religious travel are becoming popular in various demographic groups. The GNTO is keen to work closely with travel wholesalers globally to develop these markets. The diaspora market has a distinct advantage – thousands of foot soldiers to help spread the word! This is an incredible resource that must be utilised and the GNTO can develop initiatives towards this end.

Whilst there is no need to convince Australian Greeks of the motivation to travel to Greece – ‘preaching to the converted’ – it is important that all Greek Australians consider themselves as ambassadors for Greece and promote travel to all their friends, acquaintances and a wider Australian audience.

The Hellenic Initiative, founded in 2012 as an alliance of global Greek and Philhellene communities, is an organisation that also intends to play a role in the recovery of Greece by stimulating investment and connecting our amazing global diaspora community. Apart from the obvious business investment, tourism, as the number one industry in Greece, should play a significant role in the economic and social recovery.

Minister Kefalogianni has promised that the Greek National Tourism Organisation will closely engage with the major Greek diaspora communities towards this important goal.
We must all work together to promote Greece and Greek tourism. Our rich cultural history and proud traditions deserve nothing less.
*Elly Symons is a member of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria Seminars Committee.