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Tue, 19th Jun 2012

"Greece appeals for volunteer holidaymakers to help regenerate tourism

Greece is calling on the help of volunteer holidaymakers and the goodwill of operators, hoteliers and airlines to "set the record straight" after suffering months of bad publicity.

The tourist office and major Greek enterprises have developed an online interactive platform - TrueGreece.org - for visitors to share their travel experiences in an attempt to counter concerns about the country's economic difficulties and political unrest.

Tour operators, airlines and hoteliers are being asked to give away freebies to fund trips for holidaymakers who will then be asked to write, blog and tweet about their experience.

Tourist chiefs are now on the hunt for goodwill social-media savvy volunteers, known as True Greece's True Supporters, who will work from home, for free, to spread the "good Greek word" about what it means to experience the real Greece.

This team of volunteers will be expected to "share the truth about Greece by responding to inaccuracies or speculations they may come across".

Sunvil managing director Noel Josephides said he was approached by tourist chiefs at the end of last week and has agreed to give away around 20 seats for the cause.

"We've got to help regenerate Greek tourism. We're linked with Greece and our fortunes are tied," he said.

Geared to both consumers and the trade, the website will provide travel-related content including interviews with opinion leaders in the travel industry, tourists' testimonials, videos, photos, tips and informative articles on what's happening in Greece.

The launch comes as Greece narrowly voted to support the country's mainstream conservative party, New Democracy, giving it a chance to forge a pro-euro and pro-bailout coalition.

World leaders welcomed the result and urged Athens to quickly form a new government.

The crucial vote was watched around the world amid fears that if Greece left the euro it would deepen the global economy turmoil.

Josephides said he was pleased about the result, which would buy Greece more time.

"It's what we always expected," he said. "It means we're less likely to have any problems over the summer. The Greeks will all be going on holiday in a few weeks time anyway, so there won't be any demonstrations over the summer."

by Bev Fearis