Moving ahead with long-stalled public infrastructure investments and ensuring effective cooperation between involved ministries as well as implementation of announced plans are top government priorities, said Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis, speaking at The Economist “23rd Roundtable with the Government of Greece” conference, held this week in Athens.
Theoharis underlined the importance of a strategic plan which will lay the foundations so that Greek tourism can enter a new era.
“According to all the tourism stakeholders collecting data on tourism GDP, the favorable period and climate that helped us [Greece] record growth after 2012 and until last year appears to be coming to an end,” he told the Athens News Agency on the sidelines of the conference.
“The truth is that there are always cyclical changes at tourist destinations. It has already been noted that this will lead to some reduction in tourist GDP by a percentage that remains to be seen,” he added, underlining the importance of a central strategy that will include, among others, the upgrade of infrastructure, the development of thematic tourism, advanced tourism training, and the improvement of services offered.
To generate the anticipated results, Theoharis said, cooperation between all stakeholders is “absolutely necessary”.
Theocharis, who took over the ministry earlier this month, added that the country’s efforts must now focus on “shielding its tourist product, making it strong at all times, and finding opportunities to improve its infrastructure with the goal to claim a larger share of global tourism… and at the same time provide greater certainty that Greek tourism can withstand all conditions – both favorable and unfavorable”.
Last week, Theocharis pledged to reduce taxation on tourism, re-examine the stayover tax charged by hotels for accommodation; move ahead with mature investments for tourism units; introduce incentives for the energy upgrade of tourist units; revise the structure and operation of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO); enter partnerships with the private sector for the promotion and enhancement of the country’s brand name; and tap into silver tourism by creating products that will attract pensioners from EU states following the examples of Portugal, Malta and Cyprus.
During the Economist conference, the minister also said the government would be creating a working group/implementation team responsible for the effectiveness of ministries involved so that projects move ahead swiftly and produce results.
Speaking at the same event, Tom Jenkins, CEO European Tourism Association (ETOA), said Greek tourism had been resilient during the crisis years, breaking one record after another. He noted that demand will continue and suggested Greece invest in the growing market of China with a long-term strategy in that direction.