At a press conference last month, Makis Fokas, president of the Hellenic Hotel Chamber, said that tourism is on a roll this summer. “Foreign tourist arrivals are rising and may even reach a two-digit percentage.”
But the tourism revenue one would expect from this rate of arrivals, said Mr. Fokas, is behind. This may be due to new calculation methods and the time delay in revenue collection. Another factor may be the all-inclusive deals offered by hotels with more than 150 rooms, which says Mr. Fokas, can no longer be considered as just a trend because the market remains strong.
Mr. Fokas made a point of saying that “tourism does not proceed on autopilot” and the upward course could just as easily reverse. One troubling example “during this summer of high expectations is the delays and breakdown of ferryboats.”
Mr. Fokas also outlined the chamber’s position on the Fourth EU Subsidy Program. The chamber’s proposals were subsequently submitted to the ministry of tourism development.
One of the key points is that the Competitive Business Program (EPAN) should secure adequate funds for special activities in the tourism sector and these activities should be geared for small and mid-sized businesses. These activities and products should be those that have a comparative advantage, one with a real potential for drawing specialized demand.
Another point was further enriching and supporting Greece’s basic tourism product. The main goals should be upgrading the quality of services, reducing seasonality and strengthening thematic forms of tourism that complete and differentiate the country’s offering at every tourism destination. Mr. Fokas explained that shifting away from the summer holiday tourism is not advisable as this type of tourism represents 90 percent of the demand. Instead, small hotels should be transformed into quality accommodations, such as boutique hotels, to target demanding customers.
Strengthening international advertising and promotion of Greece was another point. The chamber proposes that three-to five-year marketing studies should be carried out and specific target markets identified and attracted.
Also, regulatory changes are needed to resolve the problems affecting tourism that result from the lack of coordination among government officials, as well as completion of the zoning plan.
A final point concerns increasing business initiatives through subsidies, such as subsidizing hotels in areas with limited tourism development. The chamber contends that the existing hotels can adequately cover even greater demand than is experienced today.
He said subsidies for funding new hotels or other developments should be made in areas with low tourism development and areas with high unemployment. “Subsidies should also be provided for initiatives involving cooperation with other countries.”