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Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

© AFP/File | The Balos beach on the Gramvousa peninsula, northwestern Crete Island on July 15, 2010The Balos beach on the Gramvousa peninsula, northwestern Crete Island on July 15, 2010

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

"Given the continuing growth in tourism in the past two years, Google has focused on the promotion of tourism services, especially in helping the small businesses that are the heart of the industry," Sete president Andreas Andreadis told AFP.

The first initiative will begin in early September in the south of the island of Crete and could be rolled out to other areas later, he said.

Tourism is a key sector of Greece's economy, which the government hopes is on the road to exiting a painful six-year recession as economic confidence improves after four years of austerity reforms.

Sete hopes Google's initiative will help to extend the tourist season, which runs from June to September, by improving companies' visibility on the internet using tools such as Google My Business and Google AdWords.

For Google, the world's largest online search engine, the initiative will help to make its search results more relevant for users.

"Google is interested in growing its own business, and Greek tourism is a growing market," Andreadis said.

Greek authorities expect a record 21 million tourists to visit Greece this year, nearly double the country's population and up from around 20 million in 2013.

Improving the Greek tourist industry's presence online could help to create another 100,000 new badly needed jobs, Oxford Economics said in a report published at the end of last year.