LONG ISLAND CITY – “We are betting on the U.S. market. We are betting on Greek-American and American tourists and investors and we have taken a number of initiatives and actions to attract them,” Mykonos Mayor Konstantinos P. Koukas pointed out, during an interview with The National Herald.
Mr. Koukas and Vice Mayor of Mykonos Miltiadis Atzamoglou accompanied by Greta Kamaterou- Director Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) on March 20 visited TNH headquarters and spoke with Publisher-Editor Antonis H. Diamataris.
Asked about the goals of the visit to the U.S., Koukas said, “First of all, let me thank you for your hospitality. For us, back in Greece, the National Herald is a pillar of the nation and we are very proud to have people who continue this very important work for the nation. I'm glad you are valid, up-to-date, and well-organized.”
Koukas noted that he was visiting the United States for the Greek Independence Day celebration at the White House on March 22nd and gave thanks for the invitation to the Municipality of Mykonos. “We thought it was very important to come to the U.S. We decided to come to New York City, which is the center of the World, and its residents are great supporters of our island.
“In Mykonos, on any given summer day, you will come across many people from New York, whether they are Greeks or Americans, and this is something that has been increasing in the last three to four years. It is unexpectedly positive and spectacular to see this increase in our visitors from the USA to Mykonos,” he added.
“At the GNTO office in New York and in the person of the director Greta Kamaterou the Municipality of Mykonos has found a reliable ally in order to develop and strengthen this mobility from America to Mykonos. The American and the Greek expatriate spend much more than the foreign tourists who have traditionally been coming to Mykonos. This is a tourism we want, a tourism that we respect, and want to keep that relationship alive.”
Asked if it is a myth that expatriates and U.S. tourists spend more than tourists from other countries, the Mayor of Mykonos said that “one of the main reasons why Mykonians have succeeded is because they are excellent entrepreneurs. A good businessman wants to have good customers, especially those who spend and do not make a fuss. The American tourist is a customer who never causes trouble and spends quite a lot in restaurants and shops.”
“We are giving priority to the American market, and we have, therefore, taken a number of initiatives. We have already made several contacts with important Greek expatriates, including Nancy Papaioannou, President of Atlantic Bank and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, who is from Mykonos, Nikos Tsakanikas, founder and president of one of the largest tourist offices of the Greek community, Homeric Tours, and he has invested and maintains a hotel in Mykonos and helps our island.
“We had meetings with the American media to promote the tourist product because Mykonos is an international destination,” he added.
Asked about the consequences of the economic crisis in Mykonos, he said that “Mykonians are hardworking and excellent entrepreneurs. Mykonians are the greatest asset of Mykonos. Of course, we were affected mainly by the 40-45% increase in taxation.
“Therefore a huge part of the revenue went to taxes and deductions. This greatly reduces business profitability.”
He continued, “Where there is tourism, the economy is better and societies are prosperous. For Mykonos, the number one tourist destination in Greece, where a small rock of ten thousand residents receives two million visitors a year, that means that the local economy is better than in other parts of Greece. During the crisis, the Mykonians invested, refurbished, upgraded the units, and this worked to help exponentially.”
“In recent years since I became mayor, tremendous growth has been onbserved,” Mayor Koukas said.