By Nikos Krinis
Andreas Andreadis on Thursday stepped down from leading the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), where he served as president since 2011.
SETE is the premier organization of Greece’s tourism industry private sector, representing unions of hotels, travel agencies and tour operators, cruise ships and ferries, yachting and tourism related suppliers and individual enterprises.
Andreadis served two three-year terms as the confederation’s president. His successor is Yiannis Retsos.
“I must admit that this is one of the moments I will remember throughout my life, as today my 27-year course in the Greek tourism community comes to a close,” Andreadis said while giving a speech during SETE’s 25th general assembly.
“As chairman of the Halkidiki Hotel Association, of the Hellenic Hotel Federation (2006-2011) and of SETE for the last six years, I was guided by a basic vision: To see my country as a leader in the provision of high standard services, with tourism excellence, giving hope, supporting employment and positively contributing to growth and other sectors of the Greek economy.”
According to Andreadis, in the past six years during his tenure as president of SETE, when Greece’s GDP plunged more than 25 percent and the country was up against a collapsed banking system, capital controls, extreme overtaxation, a tarnished image and was considered a high risk, tourism grew more than 30 percent, at a rate significantly higher than its Eurozone competitors. “The tourism sector is now directly and indirectly employed by one in four workers in the country,” he said.
Andreadis underlined that one of SETE’s most important achievements is the fact that it has a specific vision and a documented strategy for achieving the best results for Greek tourism.
“By combining the best of every sector’s potential, our country can and must be a world leader in the provision of high-standard services, thus harnessing the primary sector, manufacturing, construction,” he added.
Moreover, Andreadis said that he took the helm of the sector in a period that Greece had not experienced before (the economic crisis) and, as president of SETE, he chose a specific plan and fields of action and worked hard to achieve only the best results.
“Were there errors and omissions? But of course there were and to a great extent I personally take responsibility,” he said.
In a moment of self-criticism, Andreadis acknowledged that smaller businesses perhaps did not receive as much as support as they should have from the confederation. He also said that SETE was not able to persuade Greece’s lenders and the government to tax tourism — the only dynamic sector of the Greek economy — fairly and not extremely and unjustly. In this context, he added that the weakest regions, domestic tourism and agricultural production were not boosted.
“Were our actions correct? History will be the judge,” he said and then quoted poet Thomas Stearns Eliot: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
Wanting to give advise to his successor, Andreadis said: “Υiannis, take chances. Receive the enemies you will make and have the calmness to work for the good and for them as well. Do not forget how much more has yet to be done in order to achieve our shared vision, the big picture.”