Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni spoke about the challenges and opportunities arising from coastal and maritime tourism for European Union countries at a High-Level Conference held on 10 March at the Acropolis Museum in Athens. The conference was organized by the Greek Tourism Ministry, in cooperation with the European Commission, and held on the occasion of the Greek Presidency of the EU Council.
“The maritime policy is a horizontal policy of the Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU. Both Greece and Europe foresee that tourism could contribute significantly to economic growth,” Mrs. Kefalogianni said.
Europe led growth in absolute terms last year, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million. In 2012, Europe was a major shareholder in the world’s overall tourism revenues as its share was 43 percent, amounting to 356 billion euros.
“The Greek Presidency promotes policies that give Europe, the world’s top tourism destination, the opportunity to maintain its position by enhancing existing policies through the generation of new job opportunities and income,” the Greek tourism minister added.
Tourism accounts for 10 percent of the European Union’s GDP and 20 million jobs. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) expects an annual increase of 3.3 percent in tourism arrivals worldwide by 2030.
Coastal and Maritime Tourism: a sea of opportunities
During the conference, key issues related to the development of coastal and maritime tourism were discussed. Special reference was made to the growing dynamics of the sector, its economic and social benefits, its contribution to the enhancement of regions and local economies, its potential contribution to a decrease in unemployment.
Also, references were made on the initiatives that should be taken in order to facilitate the implementation of policies which will result in the rapid growth of direct and indirect activities related to the coastal and maritime tourism.
The conference served as a platform to share ideas and practices related to issues including coastal tourism, cruise tourism, yachting, coastal management, maritime clusters, maritime cultural heritage, and cooperation between the public and the private sector to strengthen the promotion of sustainable maritime and coastal tourism in the EU, a major concern in an era of rising competitiveness from many other parts of the world.
Informal Ministerial Meeting for Tourism
Within the framework of the high-level conference, an Informal Ministerial Meeting for Tourism was also held. The discussions were aligned with the Commission’s Communication “Europe, the world’s No 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe” (2010) and the promotion of the development of a sustainable, responsible and high-quality tourism for the EU.