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EOT launches new face in cyberspace

The Hellenic Tourism Organisation (EOT<.>) launched its newly-revamped Internet site into cyberspace admitting there is…

The Hellenic Tourism Organisation (EOT<.>) launched its newly-revamped Internet site into cyberspace admitting there is much work to be done before it is fully operational.

A brief surf of yesterday indicated it had undergone a major facelift – with EOT`s slogan for 1999-2000, Greece. That`s Life!,

featuring prominently along with impressive photographs of the country`s natural beauty – but confirmed a severe lack of written text beneath the lively fonts.

Though the tourism authority`s previous site had been criticised for its poor English translation and information holes, it did at least cover a significant amount of terrain in terms of archaeological sites, beaches, villages and towns of interest, for example. The new site may reflect the government`s efforts to develop and promote alternative forms of tourism to potential visitors, who it would like to see year-round and not just during the months of May to October, but clicking onto certain subcategories in the activities section produced either a very brief text, a side-bar of links or a still under construction notification.

Built in cooperation with the University of Patras, the reworked site appears more organised and easier to navigate despite its current dearth of detail which EOT general secretary Evgenios Yiannakopoulos repeatedly stressed was being addressed.

He said work on the web-pages, presently appearing in Greek and English, should be finished by the end of the year, by which stage translations into German and other languages will also have been incorporated. The site is divided into three sections offering information on travel, business information and EOT itself.

In presenting the site during the last session of the national tourism council before the April elections, Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos characterised it as a useful tool which was necessary considering the rapid growth of the Internet. This is especially true of the travel industry, where on-line bookings are booming though Greece is still lagging behind in this field.

This will be one of the most important [promotional] arenas for Greek tourism, Venizelos said, referring to the expansion in electronic commerce.

He said the Internet was not merely a medium for relaying stock exchange information, for instance, but was perfectly suited to promoting the services sector, Greece`s tourism industry in particular.

Just by looking at how many visits are made to the culture ministry`s site, one will realise its importance. The Internet assists by reducing distances, between the potential client and the destination.

This type of infrastructure is vital to both large businesses such as hotels as well as small and medium-size enterprises. The difference in size between a hotel with 1,000 rooms and one with 50 rooms is minimised by the Internet.

Financing for the project has come from EU pockets – namely the Second Structural Fund, Yiannakopoulos clarified, noting that the site`s business information section sets out the government`s development law which is designed to encourage tourism investment.

A search facility allows potential tourists to find a hotel in Greece while this capacity is to be extended soon to rented rooms and apartments.

Yiannakopoulos said that the final stage of this programme, which is part of a four-year plan, would allow visitors to access tourist information via computers set up at archaeological sites, museums and other areas around the country. Talks have already been held with banks with the aim of introducing on-line banking through these facilities, he said.

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