The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) will soon conduct a comprehensive study on the characteristics of Greek tourism and focus on necessary changes to the sector’s policy, according to the GNTO’s secretary general, Nikos Karahalios. Such a study has not taken place for the last 10 years.
Speaking yesterday, Sunday, 30 September, during the tourism session of the Capital+Vision multi-conference held at Hilton Athens, Mr. Karahalios underlined that Greek tourism’s main problem is that it lacks a permanent strategy.
“Tourism must be consistent and continuous and that is why it is necessary for the position of the general secretary of tourism to be permanent,” the GNTO’s secretary general said. Greek tourism professionals have called for a permanent general secretary for tourism on many occasions.
In regards to advertising the country abroad, Mr. Karahalios said the organization would go ahead with “targeted advertising campaigns” under a strict budget.
“We can no longer spend large sums to advertise the country, such as 30 to 40 million euros,” he said.
The general secretary said the government aims to improve the country’s infrastructure by next year and this way give a boost to Greece’s promotion abroad.
On his part, the president of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, Yiorgos Tsakiris, said two interventions were necessary to enhance the country’s tourism product. Tourism contributes some 18 percent to the nation’s GDP.
“We must first extend the tourism season as today some 52 percent of tourists visit Greece during the classic summer quarter (June-August) and the remaining 48 percent arrive during the other months of the year,” he said.
The second necessary intervention is to enrich the country’s basic “sun and sea” tourism product with cultural elements.
Mr. Tsakiris added that the opening hours of Greek state museums and archaeological sites should be formed to serve tourists and not the guards or other public sector workers. “Tourists do not go to museums and sites at 8am,” he stressed.
Greek tourism’s goal for 2013 is to exceed 16.5 million international arrivals and 11.5 billion euros in tourism revenue, the general secretary of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Yiorgos Vernicos said during his speech.
Mr. Vernicos referred to Greece’s competitiveness problems in the tourism field and stressed that although until recently Greece was among the 10 most preferred tourism destinations, now it simply remains in the top 20.