For Greek tourism to grow to its fullest potential there must be rewards for those who upgrade, who take initiatives, who risk with the ultimate aim to offer only the best. This, in the end, is what will attract the crowds to Greek shores, as explained by former tourism minister and current Tourism Awards judging committee president Nikos Skoulas.
Speaking to capital.gr, Mr Skoulas highlighted the areas in which Greek tourism can excel: innovation, new technologies, gastronomy and experiential travel. Those entrepreneurs who tap into these areas with professionalism and with the goal to meet the visitors’ needs should be rewarded for their efforts, and this will in the meantime serve as an incentive for further action, Mr Skoulas said highlighting the importance of the 3rd Tourism Awards to be held in Athens this year.
“Tourism was the only sector amid financial crisis to stand on its feet and display potential for further growth. As such, it can play a vital role as a model for other sectors which may have suffered from the recession,” Mr Skoulas says.
That is why recognizing and identifying successful initiatives and practices, not only in innovation but also with regard to quality and results is crucial.
As for the sector’s impressive results in 2015, Mr Skoulas does not mince his words: “Greek tourism may have recorded great results in 2015 in terms of arrivals but these figures are in part due to the ongoing conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean region and not due to our competitive edge. Which means that the government should stop being complacent and instead get down to work and support private initiative. Shutting down museums is not going to contribute to the image of Greek tourism abroad. And, finally, a number of private enterprises – thankfully only a few – should stop their ‘predatory’ practices, which damage the country’s reputation, and instead focus on quality.”
For Mr Skoulas, the key to further growth and to establishing Greece as a competitive force is specialization based on innovation.
“We need to identify areas where we have a comparative advantage and make strenuous efforts to turn it into a competitive advantage. Such sectors are tourism, technological specialization, agricultural production, energy… We also have a powerful human dynamic that is well trained in tourism, a unique climate for agricultural production. Let’s harness these advantages and at the same time focus on their promotion, marketing and export.”
“Innovative initiatives are just not enough,” Mr Skoulas adds, “They must be implemented staunchly and persistently, and this is where we lag behind hopelessly. This is where tourism can be a leader and set the example.”
The deadline to apply for the Greek Tourism Awards is February 5.
The Greek Travel pages (GTP) is a main communication sponsor of the event.