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UNWTO: Tourism Academy and StartUp Competition on Agenda for Greece

The upgrade of tourism education and training in Greece was among the main topics discussed between Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis and the secretary general of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, in Athens on Monday.

The meeting at the Tourism Ministry was also attended by Deputy Minister of Tourism Manos Konsolas, Secretary General of the Tourism Ministry Konstantinos Loulis and Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) President Angela Gerekou.

As announced by Pololikashvili, the organization is keen on creating a UNWTO International Center (IC) in Greece, associated to the UNWTO Academy, that will assist in the continuous reform of the tourism schools run by the Greek Tourism Ministry and their establishment into “Regional Tourism Excellence Centers”.

Operating under the guidance and supervision of the UNWTO Academy, the purpose of the International Center will be to work as UNWTO knowledge and training hubs, ensuring that the state-of-the-art knowledge and good practices available at UNWTO are delivered under the format of workshops and seminars.

Speaking to journalists, Pololikashvili said that the UNWTO has already established an IC in Andorra, which has been operating for 25 years, and in Portugal, since last July.

The secretary general informed that between 2020-2021 the UNWTO aims to also establish such centers in Greece, Switzerland, Russia, Georgia and Saudi Arabia.

Competition for Greek Startups

“We are also going to announce a startup competition for Greek entrepreneurs and support them to find investors,” Pololikashvili told journalists.

The UNWTO’s startup competition for Greece will be called Tourism Tech Adventure and winners will have access to investers from abroad and therefore international funding.

According to Pololikashvili, the competition will follow the UNWTO’s previous startup competitions involving the connection of tourism to sports and gastronomy.

Investment forum

Moreover, among the topics Pololikashvili discussed with the Greek tourism minister was the possible organization of an investment forum – Invest in Greece – to attract more international companies and financial institutions to invest in the country. “And this way, at the end of the day to create new jobs in Greece,” Pololikashvili added.

On his part, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said that the UNWTO secretary general’s visit to Greece creates a big scope for common actions.

“Greece is in the first league of tourism countries in the world but we are not happy with where we are. We want to move forward, we want to be better and we want to focus now, not in terms of arrivals, but in terms of quality, tourism revenue… This is our goal in order to ensure that we have the best possible products and the best possible experiences for the people that come and chose Greece as a destination,” he told journalists.

During his high-level visit to Greece, the UNWTO’s secretary general held a meeting with Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and also met with representatives of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation, the Greek Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Enterprises (SETKE), the Federation of the Hellenic Associations of Tourist & Travel Agencies (fedHATTA), Athens International Airport (AIA), the Association of Cruise Ship Owners and Maritime Agencies and Celestyal cruises.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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