The simplification of the procedure for issuing Schengen visas to increase the inflow of tourists to Greece and the protection of the country’s image via crisis management, were two priorities on the agenda of Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni last month.
These two issues are part of a seven-point plan, announced in late July by Mrs. Kefalogianni, to be implemented in 10 weeks time to reverse the negative climate in Greece that has affected tourism arrivals.
“The aim is for this year’s tourism season to close with the fewest losses possible and for Greek tourism to see growth in 2013 on a stable, long-term and sustainable level,” she said while addressing the Greek Parliament.
The seven-point plan sees to promote Greek tourism to the country’s top-priority markets (Germany, UK and Scandinavia) and markets that have expressed a high interest in Greece (Russia, China and North America).
A second priority is the activation of the Greek National Tourism Organization’s social tourism program “Tourism for All.” The program will launch this month and is expected to contribute significantly to the revival of domestic tourism.
The launch of the much-talked-about marketing company -Marketing Greece- formed with public and private sector partnership (in this case, the GNTO with the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises) is another top priority for the tourism minister.
A sixth priority is the structural reorganization of the Tourism Ministry and the GNTO so both establishments could function effectively for the needs of tourism.
The tourism minister will also seek to achieve an industrial peace agreement with political parties, employer associations and worker unions to avoid extraordinary situations and strike action during the summer months.
“We cannot hope for the (negative) climate of Greece to be reversed in conditions of social division,” Mrs. Kefalogianni said.
In regards to long-term goals of Greek tourism, the minister will push for the revision of the special zoning plan for tourism with understandable rules and conditions for the development of tourism in various regions of the country.
Also, initiatives will be taken for a new investment incentives law and air transport strategy to improve the accessibility of destinations and review airport fees.
According to Mrs. Kefalogianni, a tourism omnibus bill aimed to solve the chronic problems of the industry will be tabled in Parliament in the coming months.