Since the start of the financial crisis in Greece, tourism has directly generated 125 billion euros to the economy, while 230 million people have traveled to the country, gaining a positive experience, the president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, said on Thursday.
Speaking during the closed session of the confederation’s 27th General Assembly in Athens, Retsos underlined the value of the tourism sector for the Greek economy.
“Greece has been rising over the last nine years from an unprecedented economic crisis… Greek tourism remained the spearhead of the wounded economy, the primary sector of contribution to national GDP and a major sector for jobs,” he said.
“During Greece’s peak tourism season, the sector contributes almost 20 percent of the total employment of the country,” he added, also mentioning that in the last three years, private investment in Greek hotels worth of 5.6 billion euros were carried out.
“Tourism is a unique, valuable asset for our economy, for Greece, for all,” he added.
Greece needs new, national plan
“Greece, at this critical stage, more than ever needs proposals, solutions, and a new national plan that will give a clear and realistic picture for the future of our country,” SETE’s president said, underlining that tourism can and should play a role with an overall strategy of sustainable development.
“A strategy that encourages and facilitates healthy entrepreneurship, attracts foreign investment and spreads its benefits to the whole of Greek society,” Retsos said.
During his speech, Retsos applauded the fact that during the the pre-electoral period of the recent local and regional elections in Greece, tourism was high on the agenda in many parts of the country in a more meaningful way than it had ever been in the past.
“Specific problems, including infrastructure issues and destination management issues were discussed,” he said.
“It remains to be seen in practice how the new mayors and regional governors will follow the best path for Greek tourism and local residents,” Retsos said, stressing that there is no time to waste, especially in destinations where millions of tourists are to be accommodated.
SETE continues talks with EU officials
Retsos also said that SETE will continue to highlight the significance of Greek tourism in Brussels, Europe’s decision-making center.
“Continuing our strategy of 2018, this year we also raised the issues of Greek tourism in the heart of Europe,” he said.
The confederation’s president added that SETE will soon form a common agenda with its counterparts from Germany, Italy and Norway, to promote issues to the European institutions during a future official visit.
Top topics on the common agenda will include overtourism and new trends in tourism, such as accommodation rented for the short-term via electronic platforms.