In a sign of the current austere climate, more than 200 Greek nationals raised £12,000 to pay for the advertising space in an attempt to give their country’s tourism industry a boost.
The money to rent the billboard space for two weeks – in one of London’s most visited and high-profile locations – was raised through “crowdfunding” (individuals pooling their money) through the website loudsauce.com, reported Travelmole, an online travel industry news website .
It is part of a wider initiative called Up Greek Tourism, run by volunteers in order to promote Greece as a holiday destination overseas.
The London billboard features an animation of a boat, sailing into the blue, with the catchline “We are off to Greece”. It also features photos of those who contributed to the fundraising.
London is the third city to be targeted by the campaign, following successful billboards being launched in New York City and Washington DC in the United States.
Katerina Spetsiou, project manager for the London campaign, said: "We chose London and Piccadilly Circus because it’s an iconic location, instantly recognisable around the world and the epicentre of a country which for years has been at the heart of Greek tourism.
She said she was depressed with “all the negative news stories… about Greece in the British press”, which left her “itching to do something positive to help”.
Concerns over unrest and political instability led to a dip in tourism to Greece last year. The tourist industry accounts for an estimated 16 per cent of its GDP.
The billboard has been running in Piccadilly Circus for most of this month.
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