Greek Culture & Tourism Deputy Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis on Thursday inaugurated the Greek pavilion at Milan’s BIT international travel fair, which brings together 5,000 exhibitors from 130 countries and around 150,000 visitors.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with European Commission vice-president Antonio Tajani, the Greek minister said the country has asked for ways to lift visa hurdles for citizens of China, Russia and India. He also proposed that an informal tourism ministers’ council to be held in Rhodes with a parallel invitation to the Russian tourism minister for discussions over ways to facilitate tourist arrivals from Russia into the European Union.

“... Our aim is to facilitate the arrival of tourists from countries such as China and Russia with emerging middle classes who are available to travel and spend,” the EU Commissioner told the ANA-MPA.

The EC official added it was important to attract new tourists, while he stressed that the Commission was working with Athens towards to organise a tourism ministers’ council to discuss specific proposals.

The minister said Athens will also dynamically promote alternative forms of tourism (congress, sports, cultural and culinary).

Additionally, Greece is eyeing a target of two million Italian tourists annually, up from 1.5 million in 2010. Nikitiadis said that another priority is to promote long weekends and "city tours" in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Nikitiadis meets with Hungarian counterpart at Milan exhibition

Deputy Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis, on the sidelines of the four-day International Tourism Exchange here, met with the Hungarian tourism minister, as Hungary holds the EU rotating presidency.

Among the events to take place within the framework of the BIT 2011 in Milan will be a painting exhibition with works by painters Georgio de Chirico and Nikos Engonopoulos organized by the local Greek community and the Greek tourism ministry.