Greek partnership aims to develop Balkan region and beyond


WASHINGTON, DC – The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and its Greek counterpart, Hellenic Aid, are working together to stimulate the economy in Southeast Europe through tourism. The two agencies have agreed to pool their resources to improve businesses, products and services that accommodate visitors, as well as the infrastructure to support a growing economy, such as energy and sanitation systems. The partnership will encourage American and Greek business investment in the region.

USAID and Hellenic Aid are working with 15 companies along with local chambers of commerce and nongovernmental organizations to harness the technical support and hands-on expertise needed to stimulate the tourist trade. US and Greek experts on everything from power grid construction to environmental education to craft, souvenir, hospitality and agricultural businesses will be hired.

The plan hinges on stoking an emerging tourism industry to produce jobs by opening many of the region’s communities, cultural and natural attractions to regional and global markets. It leans heavily on creating incentives to attract cruise lines, hotels, restaurants, resort owners and other tourist industry components to join the partnership, now focused on Albania and Montenegro’s northern region.

“The region has spectacular beaches and a stunningly beautiful interior with gorges for rafting and mountains for eco-tourism,” said Thomas Mefford, USAID’s deputy assistant administrator for Europe and Eurasia who negotiated with the Greeks to form the partnership. “The Greeks have an interest in developing the Balkans. It’s their backyard.”

“USAID is currently negotiating with the Italian government to join the American-Greek alliance in the Balkans to eventually spread tourism throughout the Adriatic region,” said Mefford.

The American people, through the US Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years.