By Nikos Krinis
“Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development” is the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day on September 27, as announced by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
On the occasion of World Tourism Day, Greek tourism figures gave their messages, marking the contribution of sustainable tourism to the sector’s development and referring to the importance of the sector for Greece in general.
Celebrated worldwide since 1980, World Tourism Day is meant to raise awareness of the importance of tourism. This year, the official celebrations are held in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.
Elena Kountoura, Tourism Minister
In her official message on the occasion of World Tourism Day, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura underlined that the ministry is promoting sustainable tourism through a specific development plan with benefits for all local communities, creating new sources of income, new jobs and new quality investments.
In her message, Minister Kountoura said that the ministry is working more vigorously for the 2017-2020 period, aiming to establish Greece as a world-renowned 365 days a year tourism destination.
She also focused on the goals and priorities of the ministry, which include promoting the cultural heritage and unique identity of each Greek destination, linking tourism with productive sectors of the Greek economy and strengthening the country’s international image and presence.
“Tourism concerns us all and unites us. It is a national affair and a great investment in our future for the economic and social well-being of our homeland,” Minister Kountoura said.
Konstantinos Tsegas, GNTO Secretary General
“The main objective of the Tourism Ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) is to boost the tourism flow throughout the year and during all four seasons,” the secretary general of the GNTO, Konstantinos Tsegas, said in a statement.
“For another year we are witnessing an impressive increase in the number of visitors to our country, a fact that is also reflected in the amount of tourism receipts,” Tsegas said, underlining that it is “our national and social duty to support the country’s large industry as a stable pillar of economic growth”.
Yiannis Retsos, SETE President
“This year, the world tourism community celebrates sustainable tourism development, which is a fundamental condition for the sector’s prospects,” the president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, said in a statement.
“Extraversion, synergies and sustainable growth form the platform we should invest in the coming years to strengthen the social and economic footprint of tourism and further develop its quality indicators,” Retsos underlined.
Moreover, Retsos said that Greek tourism needs to be joined with the main pillars of Greece’s economic and social wealth, such as culture and agriculture, as it will boost entrepreneurship, attract investment, support innovation and new business ideas.
Greek Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Enterprises (SETKE)
On the occasion of World Tourism Day 2017, the Greek Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Enterprises (SETKE) said that it will adopt new standards that will enhance the quality of the country’s tourism product, focusing on the protection and enhancement of the natural and structured environment.
In a statement, SETKE called on the state to redefine its tourism policy by adopting a new model that is geared towards quality tourism and addressed to a higher-demand audience, other than sun and sea tourists.
“A modern model of tourism development, which will emphasize the preservation of the natural and environmental wealth of our country,” SETKE said, adding that all governments and organizations, at a national and an international level, should aim for sustainable tourism. “The tourism that develops without burdening the natural environment, without jeopardizing the future of future generations.”
General Panhellenic Federation of Tourism Enterprises (GEPOET)
“As the Greek economy appears to be coming out of the long-lasting and painful recession after much effort, the tourism sector of our country has begun to attract global investment interest and receive the attention and value it deserves, both domestically and internationally,” an announcement by the General Panhellenic Federation of Tourism Enterprises (GEPOET) said.
The federation applauded the decision of the UNWTO to link development and sustainability to the tourism industry as a priority and a strong message for the year 2017.
“On a local level, the intense interest in tourism investments should not be occasional but long-term and focused on respecting the environment and local specificities and establishing a constructive cooperation with local societies and economies, which are among the main beneficiaries of these investments,” GEPOET said.
Moreover, the federation reminded that modern technology now provides ideal and sustainable solutions that can preserve the country’s environmental and cultural reserves, with respect to the generations that come. “We all should take this under consideration.”
Celebrating World Tourism Day 2017
On the occasion of World Tourism Day, the GNTO organized the screening of the award-winning 3:36-minute promotional film “Greece-A 365-day destination”. The film was played all day in various locations, including Athens International Airport, the Athens metro stations, the cruise terminal of Piraeus Port and at the Acropolis Museum.
The GNTO sent the video to the country’s tourism bodies and representatives for it to be screened in the reception areas of hotels, rooms to let and travel agencies.
The video is also being shown via the GNTO’s social media channels.
2017 was declared as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations 70th General Assembly recalling the potential of tourism to advance the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).