Placing tourism at the top of EU policy-making and government agendas will strengthen local economies, offer employment opportunities and lead to higher standards of living, said Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura during a European Parliament event organized by parliamentary group European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) on Tuesday.
Officials and sector representatives participated in the “Tourism, Sustainable Development, and the Environment in South Europe” event which focused on inclusive upwards growth, qualitative employment, qualitative tourism, and alternative/thematic tourism in the region.
In her key note address, Kountoura referred to tourism as a driving force of national economies, its constantly increasing contribution to GDP and employment, as well as to the compound benefits across sectors.
“We implemented a plan that focuses on the human factor, the environment, aiming for economic benefits and growth which in turn extended to local communities, encouraging new entrepreneurship and creating fresh sources of income and new jobs,” Kountoura said.
The Greek minister stressed the need for tourism projects to be included in the Union’s funding programs particularly with emphasis on the period up to 2020.
The minister went on to present the Greek “success story”, and how the country has managed over the 2015-2017 period to increase tourism figures through a far-reaching national strategy which has in parallel led to the upgrade of country’s model for tourism development.
“Tourism is a significant investment in the future; it contributes tremendously to addressing the challenges and exploiting the opportunities for growth in Europe, towards progress and prosperity on national, European and international levels,” she said.