Greek Secretary General for Tourism Policy and Development, Yiorgos Tziallas, on Tuesday informed an audience of sector professionals on the ministry’s plans to extend the tourism season and support entrepreneurship.
Speaking during the 15th Tourism & Development Conference of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) in Athens, Tziallas said that the tourism ministry was focusing on actions aimed to attract arrivals in all regions of the country throughout the year.
“Our national planning aims to achieve the extension of the season, to introduce and boost the popularity of new Greek destinations, to develop and promote alternative forms of tourism and to provide infrastructure and high quality services through new investments”, the general secretary said, adding the ministry encourages and supports synergies between tourism and other sectors of the economy.
Tziallas also referred to the ministry’s plans to support entrepreneurship in the tourism sector with resources from the NSRF 2014-2020 program.
He then referred to the EPAnEk program that has already launched and sees to the upgrade and modernization of small and medium tourism enterprises, under a budget of 90 million euros.
“We have started to evaluate submitted proposals which already have covered the available budget by 40 percent”, he said and added that the ministry is preparing a new program with an increased budget to support the establishment of new SMEs from the whole spectrum of the tourist industry.
During his speech, Tziallas also referred to the thorny issue of the “sharing economy” and said that an operational framework was in its final stage.
“To face the issue of the sharing economy, we created a committee in cooperation with the Finance Ministry that studied and drew up an overall and comprehensive proposal to address the phenomenon”, he said.
According to Tziallas, the Finance Ministry is soon expected to present the legal framework of operation for home rentals to parliament.
“Through the new framework and in consultation with all tourism professionals, we have provided the necessary regulations to shield the Greek tourism product, ensure the legitimate and healthy tourism business and to deliver lost revenue to the Greek state”, Tziallas underlined.
Commenting on the performance of this year’s tourism season, Tziallas said that by the end of the year he expects international arrivals to surpass 27 million.
“In 2016 we faced the geopolitical developments in the region, the terrorist attacks in Europe and neighboring countries, the Brexit, the attempted coup in Turkey and of course the extensive negative publicity of the refugee crisis, a matter that concerns all of Europe. Operating under a specific action plan we faced the pressures on the islands of the eastern Aegean from the extensive negative publicity abroad. We managed to reverse the image and we already have positive signals for 2017 through new agreements made with major foreign tour operators”, Tziallas said.