Expertise, experience and innovation make Greece a leading tourist destination, which can and will serve as an example for other countries to follow, said World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili.
Speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), Pololikashvili expressed his confidence in the decisive role that Southern European destinations, including Greece, are set to play in the coming years particularly in the areas of innovation, digital transformation, education and job creation – all key UNWTO priorities.
Besides being a valuable UNWTO member, Greece, Pololikashvili said, plays a key role in the development of Silk Road tourism, and referred to its recent election as chairing country of the UNWTO Commission for Europe (CEU) for the 2019-2021 period.
Referring to tourism prospects for Greece, the UNWTO chief was clear: “Greece is a well-established tourist destination, hosting more than 27 million international visitors a year. According to the latest World Tourism Organization Barometer, tourism contributed 14.3 billion euros to the Greek economy in 2017, accounting for 8.0 percent of total GDP. This demonstrates how attractive Greece continues to be, as well as its ability to adapt consistently to the changing demands of tourists from around the world.”
Pololikashvili also referred to Greece’s efforts to diversify its tourist products, veering away from the popular sea & sun model that has served it so well for so long.
“We would like to see the continuation of cooperation between the public and private sectors, with the involvement of local and national governments, the tourism industry, and efforts being made to encourage tourists to visit the country all year round, encouraging them to seek out and discover new destinations,” he said.
On a final note, Pololikashvili said Greece should be prepared to address the possible cases of overtourism, but also stressed that tourism will boost the agri-food sector, create jobs and revenue at destinations that have yet to tap into tourism, adding that key to further growth of the sector includes the implementation of educational programs for future professionals.