As Greek politicians continue to haggle with the European Union and International Monetary Fund in hopes of sorting out their nation’s economic mess, private individuals in Greece have banded together with people of Greek descent worldwide in an online “crowd-funding” project to shore up the country's tourism industry.
The effort, called Up Greek Tourism, entails fundraising via four social-media outlets — a website, a Facebook page a Twitter account and a YouTube video — for an advertising campaign in New York.
Nearly $20,500 has been raised in the first 20 days since launch, according to Up Greek Tourism founder Yorgos Kleivokiotis. About 50% of supporters are located outside Greece, in countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.
“It is a unique story of individuals taking matters into their own hands to drive tourism and boost the economy of their country,” Kleivokiotis said.
The money will be used to run an electronic billboard advertisement in New York’s Times Square for 20 days, starting March 23.
“We decided we wanted to rally Greek people around a good cause for the benefit of the Greek economy,” said Kleivokiotis. “We thought tourism is the right cause, as it is so important to the economy of our country.”
According to Up Greek Tourism, tourism accounts for 18% of Greece's gross domestic product and 20% of employment.
“Through this campaign, we wanted to remind New Yorkers that regardless of its economic situation, Greece is a wonderful holiday destination,” said Kleivokiotis.
Up Greek Tourism, a volunteer effort with no budget, has 3,800 Facebook friends and more than 600 Twitter followers, while its crowd-funding video has been watched over 3,500 times across YouTube and Vimeo.
In 2009, Kleivokiotis headed a similar tourism campaign on Facebook, called “Save Greece: Travel to Greece this Summer.” The campaign reached some 170,000 users.
Follow Kenneth Kiesnoski on Twitter @kktravelweekly.