Opening the confederation’s annual conference, this year titled “Redefining Realities: #someREACTdifferent”, Retsos underlined that the time has come for Greek tourism to mature.
“Greek tourism is no longer in a growth-seeking process, as it is definitely among the top 10-15 most important tourism destinations in the world… The cliché that ‘we have to attract more tourists’ has come to an end and now we have to see how we can truly become a mature tourism destination,” he said.
Retsos said that the main issue boils down to how Greece can manage all its visitors in the best possible way and not only offer a “beautiful experience” but offer an “ultimate experience”.
“So we need to study how the modern tourism trends are moving forward, to be able to follow them, to assimilate them and to apply them to our own businesses in order to remain a leading tourism destination for many years to come,” Retsos stressed.
‘Sun & Sea’ product must be enriched
Referring to Greece’s main tourism product “sun & sea”, a product which has made Greece renowned all over the world, Retsos said that it must be maintained and taken a step further.
“This product must never be abandoned, as this is what we have to ‘sell’ and what the world knows us for. But we need to enrich it for it to gain many other dimensions,” he said, adding that the country’s gastronomy and culture must be included.
“We also have the most important element that our foreign visitors recognize and reward us for: the human factor,” Retsos underlined, citing a recent INSETE study that found that tourists in Greece seek to socialize with locals, seeing it as an experience during their holiday.
“We have to incorporate all this into our main product – sun & sea… We need to compose the product and target the right markets,” he said.
‘The time has come to take risks’
Highlighting the fact that Greece’s tourism sector managed to survive the crisis and is perhaps the only example of a success during those years, SETE’s president said the sector must now take risks.
“We need to see where we were 10 years ago and where we are now, and work on a more positive tone… We have to take risks, diversify and create new products… The time has come for us to start playing ‘offense’. We already played ‘defense’ during the crisis… Now we need to focus on the sector’s strength and proceed with optimism,” Retsos concluded.
SETE’s conference hosted a lineup of tourism’s highest achievers worldwide who provided expertise to help inspire innovative ideas. Speakers also passed on best practices for destination management and strategic tourism development.
Some 500 tourism professionals, government executives, global experts, young talents and start-up companies attended the conference.