Supporting small- and medium-sized tourism enterprise and fostering team work between professionals of the sector through cooperatives, joint initiatives and united fronts, top the government’s agenda for the year ahead, Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said in her speech to parliament this week.
The ministry now aims to push for the modernization of the tourism product through the efficient use of EU funding as well as from the new NSRF funds (National Strategic Reference Framework) for the 2014-2020 period, update legislation for development, ensuring clear criteria, timelines and funding requirements, and move ahead with the new hotels/accommodation classification and certification system.
“Our goal and responsibility is to further upgrade the tourism product and address the problems of those involved in the industry,” Mrs Kountoura said. Adding that this can only be achieved through cooperation on all fronts and of all parties involved, both public and private.
The minister further highlighted all the work done in the seven months of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government, which included achieving a record number of arrivals at 2.6 million and 15.5 billion euros in revenue.
Mrs Kountoura pointed out that although Greece suffered a series of setbacks, including the referendum, elections and capital controls at the peak of the tourist season, the ministry moved quickly to facilitate banking transactions for tourists, gave tourism businesses priority for the transfer of working-day capital, worked to “repair” Greece’s image following the negative portrayal of the country in the international press, and launched the “Happening Now #Greeksummer” campaign in effort to draw in the undecided traveler.
The minister concluded that the government, aware of the sector’s major contribution to the economy, has already set out to extend the tourism season investing in the so-called “Four Seasons Tourism”, penetrating new and higher profile markets with direct flights, including China, the United Arab Emirates, Korea, Canada and the Middle East, establishing alternative and theme-oriented tourism offerings, which include everything from gastronomy and cultural heritage to cruise trips and luxury travel, working close with regional authorities and private enterprise for the far-reaching promotion of the tourism product abroad, fine-tuning tourism-related legislation and offering financial incentives to attract foreign investment.